Posted by: chptr37 | 04/15/2009

Pg. 14: Black Sheep


The sheep at the farm, the day before sheering. I didn’t take any pictures of afterward. They were too embarrassed. Good thing black sheep are prized for their pretty wool.


  • Miles Today: None
  • Miles Total: 4907
  • From/To: Home to downtown Ithaca to home again.
  • Slept: To the sound of kitties in my ear. All my parent’s cats talk with the same accent. It’s a long, drawn-out row-arrr-oww.
  • Soundtrack: Flogging Molly, courtesy of… my brother?! It is a small world.
  • Worst Thing: Trying to buy adapters for Scotland. Why, oh why, does no one carry these?
  • Best Thing: The kind women at Borders who were on purse-return duty.
  • Quote of the Day: “NOT A SNACK! This means you! And I counted ’em!” Written by my mom on a container of freshly made carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing. My sister and I folded it over so it just read “A SNACK! This means you!”


I’m nothing like my family.

I’m everything like my family.

In so many ways, I’m the black sheep of this flock. The one who left to live on the other side of the country, and now the other side of the world. In a family of hands-on people, I make my living sitting in a chair, using only my brain. In a country, farming family, I gravitate toward the city. I want my Internet and my good coffee and my ability to bike almost anywhere. I don’t get the small town stuff, and I know I often have a blank stare on my face when the conversation turns to “So-and-So who lives down by the old chicken farm and married Susie Such-and-Such’s third cousin twice removed and…”

On the other hand, I love the country that my family inhabits. The wide-open. The land and the wind and the green. The garden talks to me, the trees. The way of living so close to the land, so dependent on it, so respectful of it. We all share similar senses of humor, like a lot of the same movies and music, love the same foods (minus mayonaise) and we have a stubborn and competitive streak that’s about six miles wide. Bring out a game of any sort, and you’ll have us divvying up teams, getting a bowl of ice cream to power us through, and smack-talking in about half a second.

But the way I’m most like my family? It’s spelled like this: K. L. U. T. Z.

Yep, that’s right. We are genetic klutzes. Despite the fact that we’re all athletic in our own way, we can’t walk without breaking a toe and we can’t pour milk without spilling half of it on the table. “Ow!” is a common refrain, followed by “I’m alright!” and then “Ow!” again. Possibly with a few choice swear words thrown in for good measure. We sit around at the dinner table, laughing our asses off as we tell stories of our latest exploits: from spilling mochas on our computers and snorting hot coffee out our noses, to broken noses during bowling, busted knees during ice skating, a near-broken thigh from falling over on a bike, and torn ligaments from ping pong. Someone sliced the back of her hand open on a paper hospital bracelet so that it bled profusely. Another someone (ahem) tried to sit on the blown-up air mattress only to discover it wasn’t blown up and about busted her rather cushy butt when she fell over backwards at full force.

The list of injuries goes on and on: Bee stings from driving over a hornets’ nest, a broken tail bone from falling at the swimming pool, a splinter in the eye while cutting wood, breaking a tooth off while trying to gnaw two Legos apart, breaking another tooth on an olive pit, getting knocked out by an overhead garage door, ripping a fingernail off while putting laundry in the dryer, cutting the end of a finger off while chopping basil…

A lot of our stories have to do with animals: stepping on, rolling over on or tripping on cats, ducks, chickens, snakes, dogs and rabbits. I got bucked off a tiny pony once so hard that I lost my breath for a very long time. We’ve gotten kicked by llamas, kicked harder by horses, side-swiped by cows, chewed on by a million different creatures with long teeth, and head butted by sheep.

And then there are the stories where you’re just not sure you have the whole picture. Case in point: The story where someone either get their leg trapped between two logs or they fell in a gopher hole and couldn’t get out. It all depends on who you ask, and who’s around at the time to hear the story. There’s another story that involves an electric fence and either elbows or necks. Possibly water. Possibly a dare. A question of manhood being put on the line. Or maybe, just an accident… (yeah, right).

Possibly one of the funniest stories involves my mom, who was bent over doing something with a llama and either got hit by a pitchfork or got stung in the head (or, we’re pretty sure, both, although the order is unclear. Stung first, and dropped the pitchfork? Dropped the pitchfork and then got stung?). There was some swelling around her face, and we convinced her that a bit of Benedryl would be a good choice to take care of it. She took two pills, promptly melted into some kind of incoherent stupor from the medicine as she attempted to tell us what, exactly, had happened. We all stared at her, open-mouthed, as she slurred her way through a rendition of the story, then fell off the living room chairs in fits of laughter. After which, she glared at all of us through her swollen and medicine-hazed eye and announced she was “goooo-ing go bed.” I’m pretty sure our laughter followered her into her drug-induced dreams.

Despite all of this falling, tripping, spilling and bleeding that I’ve done due to my genetic make-up, I’ve yet (-knocks on wood-) to break a bone or to have stitches (except, as it was pointed out to me, once when I had teeth pulled, but I’m not sure that really counts). I think the same can be said for most of the rest of my family as well. We might be klutzy, but we’re apparently resilient as hell.

So, yes, I’m the black sheep, never following the flock, always going my own direction, traveling far behind the pastures where I was raised (despite, or possibly because of the gopher holes and the electric fence), but I know that if I tilt my head and listen carefully, I’ll hear someone behind me, probably yelling “Ow!” followed quickly by “I’m alright!”

Far and fast, s.


“Advice after injury, is like medicine after death.” ~Proverb



Probably the only time we’re safe is when we’re asleep. The cat, however, is probably in for a surprise.



  1. Heh heh the picture of your brother is how I usually wake every morning with a cat by my head on the pillow. I have to check the other side to make sure I don,t roll over on him or hit him with my arm.

    Enjoy your family.

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