The Chinese Zodiac labeled 2010 the Year of the Tiger. Tell that to Hammer, our smallest, loudest male and the Rooster Most Likely to Take Out Your Kneecaps if you stroll too close to his favorite hen. We kept Hammer and his fourteen subjects in a kiddie pool sprinkled with pine shavings from April to May, and then moved them to their new coop one at a time. One of my favorite memories of this year: the four of us each carting one or two chickens at a time, cradled like babies, across the yard, down the hill, and into their country estate with the hens craning their necks and gabbling about the hugeness of the world like old women on a car trip—"look at this—oh my!---look at that---heavens! Have you ever seen such a---o for goodness sakes!"
According to the interwebs, the Year of the Tiger produced a generation of sensitive types prone to deep thinking. In rooster years, we get eccentric, emotional types who like to argue. Think of Obama as a tiger and Glen Beck as a cock.
2010 turned out to be rather a lame act, to be honest. For our little family, sometime around the Chinese New Year in February it shifted from the Year We Hoped Would Be Better Than 2009 to the Year Of Unbe-effing-lievable. We struggled through shoddy tenants destroying our "investment property" (i.e. the house that couldn't sell), to no tenants but major repairs, to a wonderful, responsible tenant and suddenly no more house. Enjoy choking down that toxic asset, Fannie Mae.
Meanwhile, Hammer found his crowing voice and liked it so much he decided to voice it often.
For me, 2010 shifted to become the Year of Really, This Again? Uninspired by my routine of part-time work and housewifery, I decided to lock myself back in the Ivory Tower. On a random trip to Helen, Georgia, we parked in a lot with a sign that read: "Parking spaces is reserved for visitors." While carving the "s" off the noun with a plastic spork from the car, I thought "I'd like to spend more time with educated people." I sent a text to a former professor about getting back into grad school. By the time we returned to Rome, I was a Ph.D. candidate in the Lit Studies program at GSU, facing three more years of commuting to Atlanta for the joy of using the word "heterotopia" with a group of people who love it as much as I do.
Meanwhile, Hammer chased off one of his competitors and learned how to jump the fence. "Jump" works—to call that flight would embarrass any airborne creature.
Husband's 2010 could have been called the Year of Learning So Much More Than You Wanted to Know About the Construction Industry. Rome's ECO Center required major diplomatic efforts between architect and contractor, contractor and employees, employees and taxpayers in the park--who voted to add a penny to their sales taxes to pay for the building only if it meant they could use the restrooms or pilfer the construction supplies whenever they stopped by Ridge Ferry for a family reunion picnic. Husband enjoyed loads of support for the project in theory, stacks of mostly politically-motivated suggestions for how to run the project in practice, and several gifts of free I didn't know they would get this big turtles/fish/snakes when the building finally opened.
Meanwhile, Hammer declared Noah Enemy #1. The bird attacks by dancing at his target first, a fancy little flamenco stutter-step designed to woo his victim into submission before he jabs his talons at kneecap height. It's hilarious and surprisingly painful.
Noah's pet rabbit friend Martin died this year. No apparently cause. It was a tough lesson in sometimes pets just die. As his namesake, Noah kept gathering creatures, and at the end of the year we end two on the plus side after taking in a friend's gerbil and establishing a permanent home for a lizard who was already living in his room anyway. Noah and seventh grade jabbed each other in the ribs a few times, but fewer class bullies means easier days. Noah might call this the Year of the Ukelele. He can play "Take on Me" by a-ha. What more do you want?
Meanwhile, Hammer trained all of the neighborhood dogs to stay the hell away from our backyard.
The year one starts high school becomes Freshman Year, regardless of what else happens in life. Three members of our family watched Aj go through that transition process into ninth grade with calm strength and admirable confidence. Never in a million years would I have been able to pull that off, dear reader. He credits Berry for his self-assuredness, his ability to make friends easily and his suckiness in math. I credit Rome for giving him a space to jump into a Shakespeare play and the wrestling team all in the first term.
Meanwhile, all of Hammer's ladies began laying, and I learned how to make a soufflé.
Maybe I'll call the Year of Small Blessings.