Minute Memories

Today’s post comes from Cynthia in Mahtowa

Barb in Winona’s recent post asking “What have you learned about animals over the years that has surprised you? “ made me recall one of my first goats and her hysterical pregnancy that accompanied her daughter’s actual pregnancy. Today going through old papers in a desk, I found what I had written about her in 1987.

This is a time of great changes in my life. The old and familiar features of the landscapes in my life are dropping away. I am left with feelings of disorientation as the trappings of a new landscape are as yet undefined. Sadness tears through my body as beloved people and creatures leave my world.

Today Minute died. Sunday, 15 February 1987. Just shy of eleven years old. She was a goat chosen ten years ago because of her splendid set of horns and black coat. She looked a though she had been whisked out of the Swiss Alps. She came as a young, dry does to be a companion to our first milk goat Snow. They came from a large heard of goats that roamed the acreage at will. I thought they would do the same here. They wanted leadership, however. And I was their appointed leader. They would go nowhere nor eat anything without me. They stood on the deck at my window and baaaaaed until I could stand it no longer and would go out with them. Then we built fences. Then they felt safe. Then I felt sane.

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Minute was not a wonderful milk goat, but she was a remarkable being. I first noticed the tenderness in her when her first daughter had her first born. Minute was not having babies of her own that year, but she stood with Dritte all through her labor, then helped her clean and nurture the newborn son.

When Minute’s next daughter, Carob, became pregnant, Minute who was not bred, grew in size along with her through the five month gestation. Minute went into labor when Carob did, giving birth to water, never leaving the side of the kidding pen, while Carob gave birth to twins. When Carob was finished delivering, Minute was once again as thin as her single self should have been. When we let Minute into Carob’s pen, she cleaned and warmed the babies as if they were her own.

The next spring Carob was found dead in the barn—an apparent victim of rough play. As the goats were let into the barn for the evening, Minute walked to the body, licked it and talked to it with the same tenderness as she had greeted her when  she was born. Then Minute turned her attention to the matter of supper.

Minute became weakened and somewhat crippled in her later years. I do not know whether she had been injured as she dropped lower in the pecking order, or whether it was arthritis as part of her aging. It made her life more difficult as the younger, stronger goats were often brutal and unforgiving. And in the summer when the herd would run from the far pasture to get away from the rain or the playing horses, she would have great trouble keeping up with them, her back quarters giving out beneath her. She couldn’t have done it another summer.

This week she stopped eating and drinking. She had a look about her that was strained and stoic and brave. She died in a dark corner of her pen. She rests there now. I will move her body to the woods, but not yet. I need more time to acknowledge her passage from my life—hers as well as all the others who are passing from my life.

What interesting things have you found in your desk drawers?

76 thoughts on “Minute Memories”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Cynthia, what a gorgeous painting and description of this goat. Some beings we find in life, human or plant or animal, really are wondrous, aren’t they?

    In my desk drawers I found all the birth announcements my parents sent out when I was born. As my aunts and uncles passed on, my cousins found this announcement stuffed away for posterity in their parents’ belongings.

    When I was born my dad was a cattle breeder, owning the herd that he and his cousin developed together. Dad started this as a 4-H project when he was 10 years old under his older cousin, Art Stratton’s supervision until Art left for WWII. Then Dad kept it going. Dad wrote pedigrees for each of the cattle in his shorthorn herd. At age 17 he won second place in an international cattle show in Chicago with one of these cattle, Whitey.

    When I cam along he painstakingly typed out a cattle pedigree in honor? of my birth. There were no copy machines then. Only carbon paper. My aunts and uncles kept these. The copies sent to me are now stuffed away in three bins of family memorabilia which I now must sort through.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. great post cynthia
    thanks
    wonderful watercolors
    you have a gift in you vision

    the story is so touching it makes the crap in my desk drawers feel gritty

    i ttnd to shift stuff my car seat gets full i gather it into a pile stuff it in a box and put it in the trunk to be dealt with later
    my trunk gwts full i tend to get a big box to fill with the 20-12 little boxes thar arefilling my trunk and pur that big box in ablace where i will get to it later.
    my desk drawers are a similar deal
    they need to be cleaned out and go into a box that goes into a box snd onto a shelf
    when i get to it obce every decade or two i find wonderful reminders amidst the reciepts and left gloves from the car
    the catalogs and sheets of ideas begun and developed snd padt from the desk i will find glimps into the past and marvel at how 1977 was really a long time ago now
    i am in chicago this week and last night driving to my airbnb room i drove through michigan ave hubub and saw a sreak joint with the note established in 1977 as part of its neon marquis and i thought “that isnt very old” then i did the math… my thought aniut chicago are in the same vein when i started coming to the hardware show in 1974 it was at the jacob javitz center in nyc and a year or two later it moved to mc corrmick in chicago and that along with the house wares show which met twice a year got me to chicago in january jily and august every every every year. i git to know the fun bars rhe fun hotels the good restaurants good music venues my favorite parts of my favorite museums and the heartbeat of the city
    i gave my daughter my 5 minute recap of the old hotels like the one walter mathew lived in in the sunshine boys with a fireplace a living room and a breakfast nook overlooking jackson or state steet just off michigan ave and how rush street came alive with laughter on the patios and in the bars as gnocci and whiskey painted the ecperience trice yearly
    my desk works the same way
    broad brush stokes of days gone by dead business associates bob rosenstiel and art hicks
    companies gone by selling sprinklers and plastic rain gutters cocworkers who left to find their version of how life and business are supposed to jell and i wonder…
    what will my kids desk drawers bring to mind for them when they look back at their memories
    i sure enjoyed savoring my accumulated memories
    i hope they do too
    iphones make it possible to sit in your room or on your barstool without ever reaching out to the “folks” around you
    i love remembering interactions
    desk drawers are rich in memories
    i gotta clean my cars trunk out soon… its full

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  3. My office desk drawers are catch alls and I try to ignore them. Keys for filing cabinets I no longer have, spare keys for my toy hand cuffs in the play therapy room, as well as spare sheriff’s badges, boxes of staples, board game tokens, glue, leads for mechanical pencils, random papers, dictaphones, electronic signature pad, continuing education certificates, audiotapes, mysterious flash drives. . .

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  4. What a beautiful piece, Cynthia – thank you.

    I have way too may junk drawers – so many things in life that I don’t seem to be able to categorize into a new home, so there they are in the junk drawer. I was looking for a particular phone cord last week and found cords for things that I don’t even OWN anymore.

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    1. You sound surprised to have cords for stuff you don’t own, VS. I’m less easily shocked. And how about all those keys that could unlock stuff but you don’t have the vaguest idea of what? I’ve got a bunch of those, enough to fill a key ring.

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      1. I have a key can – all the keys of friends’ houses and extra key to ours and a couple of little allen wrenches (don’t ask me why). I will say I know what all the keys are for because I put tags on all of them before they go in the key can!

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  5. Wonderful story, Cynthia. I’ve got nothing to match it.

    I used to have a box of memorabilia in the basement of my pink bungalow in Mac-Groveland. Among all kinds of junk, he box had three cartoons I drew when I was seven. One of the cartoons was my attempt to sketch Santa’s sleigh flying through the night sky. Santa has a balloon around his comment, which is, “It helps pass the time.” Santa is watching a TV set in the front of his sleigh, with a line connecting it to the antlers of one of his reindeer. The antlers are functioning as an antenna. In that year many homes in our little town were getting television for the first time. I apparently thought the antennae sprouting on roofs all over town looked like reindeer antlers.

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      1. I wish I could, too. This got left behind when I moved. One of the other cartoons was a favorite with our family doctor, who used to do house calls in the early 1950s. It shows a doctor about to give a kid (me, presumably) a shot. The syringe and needle are not much smaller than the kid. The doctor says, “This won’t hurt much!”

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  6. The usual pencil box stuff, stamps and mailing labels, a tape measure (I try to have one in every room), and a notebook of lists. The top list is called Get a Grip and enumerates all the things I’d love to get done around the house, like fix my closet shelf that’s sagging on one corner. (Yesterday I mentioned the fantasy of exposing the chimney bricks in the kitchen). Most of these require help from Husband, so this list languishes in… the desk drawer.

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    1. Dale is turning the blog over to the baboons. However he wants to keep the domain names with his name in them. In order to maintain the archive, he’s migrating stuff over from his domain to the new domain. So technically for a couple of weeks, there are two trails – that’s how yesterday’s problem happened. It’s probably going to take a couple of weeks for us to get the site back to they want we had it set up before.

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  7. Love that story, Cynthia, and the watercolors are lovely, too. Thank you.

    Somehow it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who has stuff, that really should be discarded, tucked away in drawers. None of it has any monetary value; some of it still has the ability to evoke a memory of a different time and place, but mostly it really belongs in the recycling bin. Some of my old English papers, complete with lots of red lines, corrections, and exasperated or encouraging notes from my various professors; scored personality inventories, complete with assessments of potential that I never lived up to; notes of appreciation for talks I had given to various groups. A hodgepodge of memorabilia that attests to the fact that I was there and, on occasioned, made a difference.

    In one of my dresser drawers I have a elongated clutch purse. I’m not a clutch purse type of person, never have been, but I bought it back in 1963 when apparently I believed I needed it to show some sort of class. It’s the one and only fancy go-to-the-theater type purse I’ve ever owned. The purse contains a never used lace handkerchief, and programs from a smattering of cultural events I have mostly forgotten I attended. A couple of notable exceptions are in the mix.

    The first is a rather raggedy program from a 1964 performance of Swan Lake at the Bolshoi Theater. Since this wasn’t the first or last performance I attended at the Bolshoi, I’m left wondering why I didn’t keep any of the other programs. Must not have brought the purse.

    Another, is a program from a concert by the St. Louis Symphony at SIU in 1969. I attended the concert because it featured Leonard Slatkin as conductor and Van Cliburn as the guest soloist, but what made it so memorable was the fact that vendors, selling popcorn, were walking up and down the aisles throughout the performance. Blew me away.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Now it is Wednesday. Still going back to work. OOOWWWIIIEEE. And it is so cold. And my friend in Arizona called to tell me how warm it is there.

      Life is so not fair.

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  8. Very nice post. Lovely art.
    Been waiting for Dale to turn it over.
    Not sure I should be talking about what is in my drawers, but not much lurking in my drawers–too many moves, too many cleaning-outs. Not many drawers left in fact. Always slowly trashing other things. Going to do my annual reduction of art and writing this month.
    Suddenly having carpel tunnel surgery on Thursday after two days on intense pain in my hands. All got set up and had pre-op stuff done this afternoon. Right hand first. (I’m left-handed.) I have more issues in my hands than CT. Unclear how much this will help.

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  9. OT: The shift to the new TB address caused a number of posts to disappear after showing briefly under VS’s “Backsplash” article. One was a post of mine that I need to repeat because it involved my “thank you” to dear friends.

    The post described how a gang of Baboon friends rescued me by organizing, cleaning and improving my old bungalow for the sale. Many came time after time, donating precious weekend days. They performed many projects, including painting several rooms. Their generosity and good spirits were a precious gift at a time I was struggling emotionally and physically.

    After my home sold (after one day on the market, and at a price above what I was asking), the new owner demolished it and replaced it with a much larger home. It is on the market now for nearly a million dollars.

    I loved that home in a way few people ever feel about a house. I grieve its loss to this day . . . not its loss to me, for I had to move on from it, but because a unique and appealing dwelling was destroyed by one man’s greed. If I chose to, I could gnash my teeth because so much generous help ended up being smashed by the wrecking ball.

    I choose to see things differently. The help my fellow Baboons contributed raised the value of my home. The selling price was well above what my realtor said would be the best price possible. More importantly, the cheerful help of so many people leaves me with lovely memories of the best side of human nature, memories that can never be damaged by a wrecking ball.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for the link, BiR. I hadn’t seen Dale’s letter before. Almost all of my posts are ephemera that have no enduring value, but I didn’t want to have my appreciation of help get lost. And, vs, no need to dig up the old one since the post just above tells the same story. I didn’t want those folks who helped me so much think their efforts were in vain.

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    1. I see the people who bought the house that replaced your house are already hoping to sell the house. It’s got to be worth at least three times the value of any other house on the block. They were chumps to buy a house so out of scale with the neighborhood. it will be interesting to see if they can find another chump.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It is my understanding that the buyer was never interested in living at that address. He bought my home to get the land in that safe neighborhood, leveled the home and built a McMansion on the site. That was his plan all along, although he lied about it.

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      2. Looking at recent sales of comparable houses in the neighborhood and various realtor’s estimates of the property’s value, it looks like the seller will be very lucky if he gets half of his asking price, taking a 400K – 500K loss on the venture. More money than sense, it appears.

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      3. He’s in the real estate development business, Bill, he’ll just take that loss as a tax write-off. I’m sure he would rather have cashed in, but it’s not a financial disaster. You win some, you lose some.

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  10. I have a box full of cords, much of it applicable to abandoned technology and likewise drawers and boxes of obsolete media that I could still access if I want to, but haven’t wanted to in over a decade. I have a box of strips of black and white film negatives, some of them going back almost 50 years and some of them in compromised quality, probably due to periods of indifferent storage. I should go through them all and organize them some day, if I live that long. Likewise the masses of digital photos on disks and hard drives. I still maintain archives of work for clients I haven’t heard from for years, clients that have undoubtedly changed employees and lines of business several times over, making my archive a kind of historical library known to nobody but me.

    But the biggest, thorniest pile I have to somehow reconcile is the accumulation of my family’s history that I find myself. From an early age, I evinced enough interest in my forebears that I became the designated repository of every moldy photo album and box of papers my parents had inherited from their parents and in which they had no interest. With my parent’s passing, I also have the papers and albums they retained. I have birth certificates and baptismal certificates for my parents and their parents, plus wedding certificates, naturalization papers where applicable, some letters, piles of photos, including ones going back several generations and myriad miscellaneous ephemera. Sorting and organizing it all could take years. I don’t begrudge the work, in fact I’m sure I would enjoy it if I ever have that kind of time available and I have, in fact, begun the process. The problem I face is that at this point I don’t see a likely recipient of my efforts. My kids don’t show the sort of interest in family history and lore that I had at their age. My sister, who is adopted and 16 years younger, didn’t know many of the older relatives and isn’t interested in that sort of thing anyway. If I follow through with the compilation in some sort of organized form (that kind of formal organization doesn’t come naturally to me), I will be doing it for my own satisfaction and on the chance that a child or grandchild will one day appreciate it. If I don’t do it, we all disappear into oblivion. Maybe we do anyway.

    Liked by 8 people

      1. My father was a sheet metal worker. Part of his training at Dunwoody involved making a metal tool box and assorted boxes and carriers. He used them his whole working life and I have them now, with many of his tools. Another thing I don’t need and can’t part with.

        Liked by 4 people

    1. I have a similar challenge, albeit on a much smaller scale: just the photos and negatives from the immediate family. I am just trying to get a year on the pictures, not an exact date. But when I ask my daughters to help me out, they won’t do it. I have the feeling that they would enjoy a somewhat organized, digitized collection of pictures from when they were growing up, but now I’m getting the feeling they don’t care that much. So, do I go ahead and do it by myself, with all the imperfections that will result from my faulty memory, or just dump it all in a box and let them deal with it in a few years when I’m dead and gone?

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      1. I wonder if the answer to Bill and ljb is the same: do the project if it would be a pleasure for you. If it would be unpleasant work, don’t do it. It is probably not possible to know whether someone in the future would care about these things. So please yourself.

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    2. I thought that box of family stuff was mine.

      We could have a family archive party and all of us sort and scan together with a potluck! While we watch Mary Tyler Moore episodes.

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    3. Bill, I ‘ve been to your and Robin’s house. Between this description of stuff you have and all the books I know you have and all the vintage items I know you have and all the wool that I’m imagining that Robin has, where do you keep it all? I’m thinking you must have a Tardis kind of basement? Small on the outside but huge on the inside?

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      1. Well, we do have 18 bookcases, most of them full, scattered around the house with eleven in the basement. Robin commands the second floor, with her yarn and wool mostly organized in stacks of vintage suitcases. Our basement is utilitarian- nothing like a rec room down there. I have an office in the basement and a workshop room and there’s a room with shelves for overflow stuff and seasonal clothes. Somehow it all finds a place.

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  11. I have a couple of boxes of old canceled checks that came back to me with bank statements. It’s been many years since I had a bank that actually returned checks, so these are mostly from the early to mi-80’s or so. It’s kind of fun to see what I wrote checks for when I was young, and how little money it was possible to get along on. Rent was $125 a month in 1979. Cable was $8 a month and included a movie channel.

    The problem with cleaning out drawers is that I haven’t done it for a long time, so it becomes a trip down memory lane, and that is not compatible with actually accomplishing anything.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I might face a big decision, too. There is serious talk of a family move from Portland to northern Michigan. “Family” in this case consists of my daughter, her husband, my grandson and me. Since my daughter asked me to move here, they would help me go along with them to the Midwest. I’m like a gimpy old dog they adopted at a rescue kennel, so I pretty much have to go where they go.

    The decision to move again is, at best, complicated. Right now I don’t see how I’d get a blog topic out of it.

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    1. I misspoke. The destination city, Port Huron, is on the extreme eastern side of the main peninsula. Some maps don’t show Port Huron. It is part of the city of Sarnia, I guess. Specifically, the childhood home of my sil is perched on the shores of the St Clair River, a deep and fast river flowing between the east side of Michigan and Ontario.

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      1. I was kinda hoping that “Midwest” might mean closer to the Twin Cities – I mean we have good values here, don’t we? But Port Huron looks to be on the FAR side of Michigan. Boo hoo.

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      2. From what I can see, Sarnia is in Ontario on the opposite bank of the St. Clair River. Port Huron looks like it would be an interesting place to explore.

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    1. A public radio host used to say, “Wherever you go, there you are!” Now I’ll say, “Wherever you go, you’re close to some things and far from others!” And it is confusing balancing all the good and bad factors. I have not been pining to be close to Detroit. On the other hand, I don’t especially want to live where scientists promise there will be a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. Etc, etc. Maybe there is a blog in that.

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  13. after surgery i was waiting in walgreens. a women of about my age came up and grabbed over the bandage and shook my wrist. “so what happened here?” i told her surgery and she still held it. had to tel her to let go. a 65ish reasonably balanced looking woman. how do you do such a thing. did hurt but i was in bad pain then. drugs have knocked it back.

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  14. Cynthia…I’ve been at a lose for words to describe my reaction to your paintings and story.
    I was carried into your life and time with the story. I’ve always felt the power in your paintings…your understanding and love for your subjects…your animal family is undeniable.

    And…I’m happy to let you keep ‘my Rooster’ painting until I return from Arizona exile.

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