The Bad Witch on Getting the Long End of the (Admittedly Gnarly) Stick

Before I begin, allow me to share my favorite Zen parable.

A farmer had only one horse in his barn.

One day, the barn caught on fire.

All the neighbors said, “This is bad.”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

It turned out that the horse had escaped the flames.

All the neighbors said, “This is good!”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

Because there was no stall to hold it, the farmer’s only horse ran away.

All the neighbors said, “This is bad.”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

A few days later, the lost horse came back with twenty wild horses.

All the neighbors said, “This is good!”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

The farmer put his only son in charge of training the wild horses, one of which kicked the man’s only son, breaking both his legs.

All the neighbors said, “This is bad.”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

The country went to war, and every able-bodied young man was drafted to fight. The war was terrible and killed every young man, but the farmer’s son was spared, since his broken legs prevented him from being drafted.

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

I also appreciate the axiom, “This too shall pass.” Not only do the craptastic times pass behind us, the times of peace and plenty pass as well. When we realize this, we learn to enjoy the good times when they come. I’m learning.

If you read my last post, you know that the row has been a little hard to hoe for yours truly. Hard, but not impossible.

My metaphorical barn burned down and my very real horse was injured. But, hey, when the war comes, at least my son will have broken legs.[1] Wait . . . what?

I lost out on a business opportunity. (This is bad.) But gained a new perspective on my financial situation. (This is good.)

I lost a father figure. (This is bad.) But was put back in touch with some folks from my past that know where all my metaphorical nicks and bruises are (and love me anyway) and try not to metaphorically hug me too hard in those metaphorical spots. (This is good.) I was also put back in touch with some old spiritual drives that had gotten all tangled up in adulthood and community politics and propriety. (This is good.)[2]

I lost half my chicken flock. (This is bad.) The strangest thing about that incident is that all of the chickens except one (my daughter’s Blue-Silky-Bantie, Sookie) were hens I had already considered “not mine” but “somebody else’s.”[3] You know how “protect that what’s mine” doesn’t extend to “plus anything that would make me particularly sad to lose nonetheless”? But, now I have an opportunity to fetch some fertilized eggs from a just-the-sweetest old man in North Alabama and let my “leftover chickens” hatch them some behbehs. (This is good.)

We had a wicked storm brew up this past week. (This is bad.) There was no damage to my house or cars during the storm, but the horses decided to pitch a fit and my prize mare got her face smashed in. (This is really bad.) She had/has a compound orbital fracture, a lacerated sinus, and presented lameness in front. (This is terrible.)We ran radiographs and did surgery and reconstructed what we could. The vets were amazing and fell immediately in love with my girlie.[4] I understand how they feel.

The lameness seems to be Sweeney’s Shoulder, a potentially debilitating nerve damage disorder. (This is devastating.) But we are going to work it out. Electro-acupuncture and pond-swimming seem to be in our future.­ (This is less bad. We’ll see.)

While that sounds like a terrible tale, I’m sure you’ve noticed the title and the pattern of this post. My mare drew the long stick. (This is good.) My mare lived through the incident. Sadly, one of the other horses died instantly. Another walked around for half-a-day and died the following night.[5]

You know the whole, “we are never given to carry a load which we cannot bear”? I tell you, folks, given the week I was having, I couldn’t have toted that load and the gods knew it; so my mare drew the long straw. Amen? Gnarly as it is, bashed in as she is. Lame as she may be. She’s alive and The Bad Witch knows how to count blessings – even smack-dab in the middle of a shit-storm.[6]

There was this other thing involving The Bad Eldest – and that was crazy-stressful – but I won’t mortify her by including the details. I will just say, “This is bad.”[7] There hasn’t been enough time between the incident and this writing to tell what the upshot is on this situation, but I have faith that there will be an upshot.

In all, as a result of an unrelenting shower of madness crammed into a week in which The Bad Husband was in (of all places) Switzerland, leaving me alone to find out just precisely how much I can bear, I’ve been shopping for a cruise. You have to understand this – a woman who has been on a total of five vacations in her adult life (including her honeymoon) has been shopping for cruise tickets. “Departure date: the Sunday after my summer final exams. One passenger. Round trip. Oceanview. Four days. Search.” Now, it may strike you that The Bad Witch ain’t afraid of nothin’. But remember, TBW is a persona. The real woman behind the keyboard is terrified to fly. Or, I should say, was terrified to fly. (This is bad.) Realizing that my life may be truncated makes staying home and doing the-same-old-same-old-grind for another forty years the scariest thing imaginable. (This is good.)

If you are having a week from hell too, hang in there. You’re not alone.

And – We’ll see.


[1] My only son is performing “Luck Be a Lady” in about an hour – I hope he breaks a leg.

[2] Let me dig down deep and get myself in a safer place and I’ll tell you all about Brother Larry’s prayer lines.

[3] The Southern Kitchen Witch has moved her hiney out to the edges of the county and I was saving her some hens and a rooster named Goliath.

[4] By day three they were shooting rock-paper-scissors to see who was going to get to take care of her. Every time I popped in for a visit, there was a former student of mine hanging out with her and lovin on her.

[5] I never feel as badly about a person or an animal passing out of life when they are in the company of others. For someone (like Brother Larry) or some creature (like this pony) to die alone is heartbreaking. I have never had the misfortune of stumbling upon a beloved pet who passed in the night; I think my biggest regret would be that my buddy faced death alone. I am grateful for having been with all (‘cept the chicks) my animals when they’ve gone.

[6] And I’m not alone in this storm, there’s some wicked juju in the air. Many of my close friends are grabbing their umbrellas and running for high-ground. I hope they all pull some long sticks too. Tie a knot and hang on!

[7] And, “If anything even remotely similar happens at any time or under any circumstances in the future, it will be even worse.”