My Valentine’s Tiller

I still want chocolate


Gordon surprised me with this beautiful thing he found on craigslist for $150. It runs like a dream. We were able to chop up the entire garden in under a half hour. It makes the place a smaller, more dealable world. It’s my first very own gasoline-powered yard equipment and I love it so much. Between this guy, my claw-fingered garden gloves, and Gordon’s repair to my cultivator, I should be able to better manage the weeds this year. Love love love.

These guys are scheduled to go in the ground next Saturday, while the moon is a waxing crescent in Pisces. Baby lettuce and brassicas and some arugula (which excites me and I’ve not previously grown).

Here you see Scout helping me to thin the babies out.

One Tough Chook

Marigold Lived to See Another Day

Her existence precarious and her condition a mystery, Marigold somehow made it to morning anyway. Warmth, love, a few droppersful of water, and her own strength saw her through. The morning found her a good bit better: able to stand and able to drink when her beak was dipped.

Gordon went to the feed store and picked up some antibacterial eye ointment for chickens per the suggestions (and consensus diagnosis of a pecking injury) of all my new best friends on the Backyard Chickens forums. As soon as I wiped an ointment covered cotton ball across her crusty sealed eye, it opened.

I took her to work with me, hiding her under my desk in a box and only revealing her presence to everybody. I made sure she got water (with electrolytes via gatorade) and eventually she ate scrambled eggs.

Team Marigold Socks

It’s now three days after I found her dying. Today she was well enough to be a chicken again and she spent the day in her own coop, mingled with the bitches a bit later in the evening, and is spending tonight in the regular coop.

Rosie tried to keep her out at bed time so I had to intervene with a few prison-like threats.

Tomorrow Rosie is going into solitary. Going to try and reorganize this pecking order.

Marigold Isn’t Well

She may not make it through the night.

Either Rosie severely pecked her in the eye, she contracted bird flu, a weasel got to her, or she has some other thing I haven’t read about yet.

The day before yesterday

I don’t even know what say or think. I posted on the Backyard Chickens forum and googled probably too much and not enough. My head hurts. I think I’m going to search for something that validates me going down to the basement and wrapping that ouchie swollen face with a warm wet compress.

I have no idea what to do.

Us on the basement stairs. Banished in case it’s bird flu.

Looking at this makes me think I should just let the poor dear go. How can she come back from this?


I was able to give her a few droppersful of water. She seemed a bit more alert. Her other eye was open and looking around when she wasn’t falling asleep. Both sides of her face are swollen but the closed eye side is worse. Also maybe bruised. Maybe my cleaning with a damp cloth bruised her. Either way, she looked less dead, not more. So I’m a bit hopeful.

I held her for a while. Someone posted to me that she may have some terrible respiratory illness and I need to contact the state vet if she dies.

My clothes are in the washer and I’ve thorougly washed my hands, face, arms, and neck. Yes a shower seems in order, but no I didn’t get into one. But I did bleach questionable surfaces.

I’m tired.

God bless you, Marigold. May we see each other in the morning.

Fermented Hot Sauce

Lacto-fermentation is an old fashioned pickling process that is easy to do and adds probiotics to your diet.

I grew a nice batch of hot peppers last summer. Had a few plants each of cayenne and habanero. Had enough to use a bit fresh, freeze a bit, and then put the rest in a quart jar with a couple of garlic cloves and a 4% salt water brine. I weighted the peppers down with a small glass jar and left the whole thing on a shelf in my kitchen for 4 or 5 months. Today I put the peppers in the food processor with a little of the brine and voila!

It’s really good! And hot. Eddie and I ate some with tortilla chips and also killed nearly a half gallon of milk.

Going to have to grow more plants this year. This sauce is one to repeat.

I was just bragging about how much I like this sweater

Chickens a Year Later

I’ve learned that:

  • They really do stop laying in the winter
  • They really molt and look like they’re dying also in the winter (which is weird because you’d think they need their feathers to stay warm)
  • It all resolves itself and they become beautiful layers once again (Nutrena Feather Fixer is a nice help)
  • Laying hens squat and have red combs; this all stops when they stop
  • Hawks really kill and partially eat beautiful huge free ranging birds
  • Established flocks really are jerks to new additions, especially Rhode Island Reds….(Rosie I’m looking at you)
Rosie The Bitch

Juniper got taken out by a hawk one day in the early fall. Actually it’s only a best guess that it was Juniper because the molting that had begun was causing me to confuse my two Delawares. So my sweet remaining Clementine may not actually be Clementine, but she is now.

Early one evening I went to close the coop and one of the three was missing. A small sense of dread came over me as I tried to rationalize that Juniper had gotten sleepy and roosted in some underbrush. The light was fading so I quickly roamed the edges of the yard singing out for her with the “chick chick chick” call. Then my gaze landed on a still mass of white. The dread grew into heavy truth and it became difficult to approach what I knew to be her. White feathers were everywhere and a large, beautiful bird lay destroyed from the shoulders up. How much suffering did she know? Did the hawk snap her spine before he plucked her and ripped her flesh away from her bones? Did shock slip in quickly with its mercy?

I went into the house and quietly delivered the sad news to my husband because I didn’t want Silas to follow us outside and see. We grabbed a light and buried her in the garden. We could hear the bells of the neighbor’s goats as they looked on at the ghouls weilding shovels in the dark.


A couple of weeks later I contacted a local breeder on craigslist and brought home a three month old Welsummer. Her name is Marigold.

She came here very sweet and timid. Rosie established her dominance in the very real pecking order by being a big fat bully. I added a piece of hardware cloth in the run so Marigold could have a seperate space during the day. At night she snuggled up in the coop with Clementine who was missing her snuggle buddy sister (the one who slept on top of her and shit down her back all night). They’ve since settled in together as a flock of three.

The girls are getting an addition to give them a little more space to roam and their lady a little more head room to work.

The Right Thing To Do

The Right Thing to do is relative at best or maybe it doesn’t exist at all.

Right for whom?  Who benefits; who is hurt?  Who usually just suffers through something based on an incorrect assumption that it is important to do so? (Me.)

I have this need to mostly do right by others. Nothing wrong with that, except that I’m also pissed off at others a lot of the time.

The present particular Right Thing quandary comes on the eve of a quick trip to Florida for a funeral. I’m struggling with my decision to not see my father when I’m down there and to not even tell him I’m going.

My grandfather died. I loved him and he was a good person. Parental figures who didn’t make you feel like shit about yourself were always in short supply in my family, and he was one. My father (his ex-son-in-law) treated his death the way I would have expected him to (but very unlike a normal person would). Immediately after I notified my father, he gave me no kindness or sympathy, but instead attempted to have a seance and demanded the phone number of my aunt (his ex-sister-in-law). When I refused to give it to him, he started a fight with me. I have since been on low-contact with him, blocking his texts and only sending a couple of emails with information about his grandchildren that I thought he may find important. Lately when I look at the blocked texts, I see that he’s become friendly again.  

I don’t want to see him when I go down there. I don’t care to see him. I have nothing to say to him and I don’t need to hear his droning pontification that he calls conversation. I don’t want to “hash this out” because I would like only an honest apology and I know that I can never have that even if I ask nicely (or cry, scream, and explain until I’m blue in the face). And allowing him to speak to me about random things that always revolve around his crazy political/religious/world views while ignoring the elephant in the room would only make me more angry and hurt.

My children don’t miss him. How could they? They don’t see him much and when they do, he barely speaks to them. He never asks them about themselves and never asks me about them.

My husband has absolutely no desire to ever see him again, I am quite sure.

So the people for whom I am actually responsible and for whom I deeply care, do not need to see him. The answer is simple, then, is it not?  In an apocalypse should I go out of my way to bring food to my asshole neighbor, or should I let the zombies get him? Zombies, right? Ok, so this isn’t that.

And since this isn’t that, I drift off into the dialogs that go something like:

He’ll be sad not to see the boys.

He’ll have his feelings hurt that I didn’t bother to see him.

He’s old.

He’s lonely.

He’s screwed up and nobody likes him.

….Deeper and deeper into the Poor Dad rabbit hole.

So then the Right Thing begins to look like me setting up a visit on our short trip, where we meet him at some restaurant and we buy him lunch and he sulks about not being invited to the funeral and then moves on to big annoying theories about Zionists or Lizard People or worse yet, embarrassing loud but pointless observations about how nowadays black people eat in the same restaurants as white people. And it will be awkward and nobody will like it but we’ll endure it and then he’ll think everything is OK and I’ll start answering his texts again because we ate together and yeah.

But that doesn’t sound like the Right Thing to me. I have this insistent thing happening where My Feelings are more important to me than His Feelings are. Or at least I think that after all these years, that maybe they should be.

Because HE never thought so. Not when:

  • I was a little girl and he wouldn’t hug me goodnight because I made him angry by laughing too much
  • I was thirteen and he was so proud that his friends found me attractive
  • I was seventeen and he shoved my head into the kitchen cabinet and called me a cunt (he has no memory of this of course)
  • My mother died and he made everything about him
  • He came to my house for Thanksgiving weekend and I was (stupidly) very excited for it but then over the span of days he told unrelenting horror stories about my recently deceased mother in front of my children and wouldn’t leave until I finally asked him to
  • My grandfather died and he made everything about him

Ok, enough of that self-indulgence. Just not ever.  He has never cared about my feelings more than his own.

I just need to take this step. Ovary up and just no.

I don’t want to see you and so I’m not going to see you.  If I feel bad for you, it’s just because I’m a decent person, not because you actually deserve it.  I can weather that momentary doubt and pain.  You aren’t in control anymore. Staying true to my needs is the Right Thing this time.

I will probably need to reread this.

Today’s Mantra

No name calling.

A lot has been going on. Really too much. For a lot of people. For us as well. Perhaps as a part of that stress (or more likely because I’ve been left unchecked by my moral compass due to stress), I’ve been quite:




The Anger (though useful and I no longer berate myself for it…. I’m a fighter) could turn to bitterness. The Powerhunger, well that’s a somewhat new high that’s come with confidence (and therefore perhaps a byproduct of healing) but it’s not great.

On paper, that ego trip admittedly sounds a little badass to me. But I don’t want to become a bad guy.

And I don’t want to become one of Them.

So today: No Name Calling

Not in my head, not in a story, not in a grumble.

I’m sure I’ll not do very well at this.

My Feminism is all Tapped Out Today

I’m a flag-waving, fully practicing feminist. That doesn’t mean I have adopted all of society’s latest feminist ideals or even necessarily know what those are. For me it simply means that I know my own worth and my own strength and that I encourage my fellow women friends to know theirs. Also that being female means that sometimes you’re the smallest kid on the playground and unfortunately you may need to yell the loudest and hit the hardest in order to prove that strength and worth to others. Other times exercising your power means being quiet and patient and making metered decisions, which can also be difficult especially in the face of injustice.

And I’m naturally a fighter. I know that. I was born a pissed off bundle of uncontrollable, so maybe it’s easier for me. But goddamn it, you have to fight in this fucking world. And when one of my fellow feminist friends cries to me that decisions are being made for her, I say “Do something about it! Don’t comply! You are free — no one can force you!” but instead she accepts her shut up gift with a tearful smile, puts on her newest $20 lip gloss, and gets back to her comfortable complaints.

And then another fellow feminist comes to me with a small problem that is going to take an uncomfortable action (very subjective here — more like “should in no way be perceived as an uncomfortable action”) to solve….so she wanted me to do it. I told her that it won’t be scary at all once she does it once or twice and that I have faith in her. So she eventually did it, but wouldn’t do it alone. Waited until I was there with her. I am not complimented by this. I am pretty much disgusted.

I want us to be empowered. Not in some stupid idealistic hypothetical sense, but in a real way. Let us say what we mean and stand up for ourselves and for each other. Let us quit making fear-based decisions. Let us realize that not making a decision IS making a decision; that we choose our own steps every single day. Let us be free to exist in our flesh and our minds however we present on any particular day. And for the love of God, let us fight when it is necessary, and maybe even when it is not.

But today I have my period and I’m done waving my flag for those of you who won’t wave your own. Grow a pair of ovaries — or rather use the ones you’ve got. Mine are yelling at me about chocolate right now, fuckyou very much.

So THAT Didn’t Work

Organic gardening, amiright?

So I’ve been battling squash bugs, which initially exclusively entailed hand squishing and crying. But then my brother Winston suggested diatomaceous earth. A bit of online reasearch confirmed it and also recommended neem oil. I excitedly dug in my garden shed and sprayed one evening and dusted the next.

While thoroughly drenching my plants in a maximum concentration of neem oil, the bugs showered without care. I believe one asked me to pass him the shampoo right before I squeezed his guts out.

The next evening I came armed with my bag of diatomaceous earth. Noticing that the neem oil seemed to have burned the leaves, but that there were no obvious legions of critters scurrying, I happily began heavily dusting everything I could. My adorable (yet idiotic) puppy rolled all around in the dusty squash beds and was subsequently bathed and banned from the garden. (The non-food grade DE is like 20% “other” ingredient(s)….and I’ll be damned if there’s a way to find out what it is.)

A few days later I realized that I had some withering, unpolinated squash and come to think of it, I hadn’t been seeing my normal crazy numbers of morning bees. Holy crap! Did I kill my bees? Or did they just break up with my garden because of my crazy DE cloud? I decided was time to rinse off the dust layer. Hopefully my weapon had been in place long enough to make the bugs go somewhere else (further than my poor ripening tomatoes they’re presently contaminating).

Rinse rinse rinse….huh. A few really yellow dead looking plants. And bugs. Lots of bugs. Scurrying around in the lovely shower. Scurry scurry scurry. They don’t give a fuuuck.

And check out these eggs that look like they got laid ON TOP of the diatomaceous earth.

Oh and lets not leave out the beauty of new life that hatched during my inactive battle.

I squished whatever I could easily see. Probably about 100 nymphs and adults. But I didn’t go hunting. I’m done. They won and I’m firing all the garden toads and spiders for incompetency.

But I may want to hire this guy. What he lacks in ability, he sure makes up for in tenacity.

This wasp was repeatedly trying to fly off with his dead grasshopper lunch.

Dear July 2014 Self,

You’re good right now. Your kids are 2 and 11. They’re healthy and happy. Gordon and you are healthy and happy. Your weight is at an all time low, and your body is strong. You trained hard and ran a half marathon this past spring. You learned about your mental and physical endurance and resilience in the face of adversity (gonna need that skill). You learned that caring for yourself makes you better able to care for others. You feel good about yourself and aside from the nagging twinges of guilt and sorrow that pop up haphazardly on most days, you’re satisfied with life.

But I’m sorry to say, that picture is about to change. Three years worth of fucked-upness is what you’re facing. Don’t worry, it’s not your kids or your husband. They are still great (thankfully). But you are personally going to be hit hard with some things that are going to mess up your mental well-being. Meanwhile, you’ll gain 75% of your weight back and your drinking, well that’s going to get to be very frequent and frequently excessive. And you’ll start smoking again (I know — wtf). But I don’t necessarily think you can prevent this and I don’t think you should get mad at yourself. You won’t roll over and die. You’ll take care of your family. You won’t completely quit taking care of yourself. You’ll even dive full force into new interests and projects. You’ll just consume too much of everything and spend quite a bit of time in a black pit where you’ll doubt yourself and analyze the same things over and over and over. Sometimes you’ll come out ahead; a lot of times you won’t. But you’ll never entirely give up for very long.

That guilt, that nagging you feel? It’s not right and you don’t deserve to have that coming at you every day. It’s a big part of all of this. You and I are finally going to let that go. I know, maybe it seems too soon to claim victory on something I haven’t yet accomplished even now in 2017, but I don’t think it is. Our brothers painted a picture that we can appreciate and understand and now I can see that the shit show is pretty much over. Or has at least shrunken into a less significant piece of annoying backstory. The ghosts are fading away now that I’m finally burying the bones. You’ll know all the gruesome details soon enough.

You and I are recently sober and not smoking anymore so nothing external is holding us back. And I’m ready to work on losing weight again. — But not all of it; you are honestly really very slim and I don’t feel like trying to maintain that. Plus, I’m kind of OK with hanging out in my imperfect skin. (I know – foreign concept.) We don’t try and cover or pluck our gray anymore either, if you can believe it.

Don’t be afraid. We’ll be better for having gone through this. For sure. I mean you’ve recently earned a good amount of confidence, but your mind is still all over the place and you’re dragging around some bullshit Jacob Marley chain. You’ve just gotta wade through a tiny little miles-wide alligator-infested swamp to get to the better days ahead.

But you know how you dream of gardens and chickens and big private spaces and how you love being in the woods with sunlight filtering through the leaves? That will be your life soon. And when you can learn to lay your burdens down long enough to breathe it all in, it will be your reward for hard work and trials endured. You will be safe again and in a place where your body and soul can be fed everything they need.

I promise.