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I’m watching spring slowly seep into the landscape. Winter was so hard, and the warmer weather, along with the life it brings, is more than welcome. I’m absorbing. Breaking icy shackles. And at the same time, suddenly so many of the loose ends of my life have managed to come fully apart and in so doing somehow managed to bring everything back together again.

I feel like I say this every year around springtime…and also in autumn…but I am so glad to be living in a geographical region that has all four seasons. While I love the brutal beauty of winter – I am always pleased when spring arrives…and I’ve never been a fan of summer, except for the fact that it ends in autumn…but it’s the liminal seasons that have my heart. There is an energy – a moving towards something – lacking in the full stops of summer and winter.

And it is in this season of spring that I am emerging from a mourning period of sorts. I put my youngest little birdy on an airplane away from here at the end of March…it feels like forever ago and just yesterday…and am learning how to have life with an empty nest. It’s something I have needed for a very long time. In spite of my fierce love and adoration for my children, I am a person who requires a great deal of solitude, and I have had none for a very long time. Until now. And I am definitely soaking in it. Wondering if I will EVER want to live with anyone ever again. Woe is the anti-social socialist!

Maybe I’m just not paying attention, but I don’t remember seeing a lot of people talking about how fucking painful it is when your last one moves out and you are taking those first few steps of single-nonparenting. For the first few weeks, I broke down several times a day in a heap of “I miss my babies.” Bereft was the word I was feeling. The last few cold weeks of winter were appropriate, but every once in awhile there was an unexpected sunshiny spring day…or week. I could feel normal mostly, until a certain song came on. Or until I encountered something that he left behind (which is much.) When I cleared off the side of the counter where he piled all of his random drawings. It’s the worst kind of breakup, because there are no sad love songs about your kids moving out. That would be creepy. But I definitely felt a great deal of grief and loss. And unlike when my eldest moved out, I didn’t have another child here to distract me.

But I have the dogs. And the cats. And the chickens. And the turkey. And a couple of nice friends…and projects here and there that I spend time on. I’m slowly figuring out how to meal plan for one, and trying to save money on food. The garden is still going to be a bit sad this year. I’m working some of that “single mama budgetary magic” on some unexpected cash inflow…seeding several different little things that need addressing…hoping to stay afloat.

Over the past few years, I feel like I have disparaged motherhood a great deal. The experience of it, that is…not those who undertake it. They were difficult years, and perhaps my ire was misplaced. Perhaps motherhood is a season, and as such is meant to prepare you for the coming season, as well as use what you learned from the season before. I hope with all my heart that my children weather well out there, flying around the world on their own. Being their mom has been occasionally brutal, but infinitely beautiful. Like all challenging experiences, motherhood has made me who I am, and I am cool with that.

Just be glad to be here…

Cold-weather bedding time

The last couple of days have had grey moments that portend winter, and I have switched my focus to hardcore cozy prep. The house has, for the most part, been fully reorganized. Tidy, it is not, but there aren’t things spread all over the floor of the mudroom and dining room, waiting to be put up. Those items are either in a general area where they will remain, or up on shelves to be sorted during the winter months. This month, I am focusing on my inner health and the outdoor spaces of my home. The coop has been insulated – it just needs some roosts and additional bedding, the front and back porches need to be cleared and garden supplies stored so they can be maintained, cleaned, oiled, and readied for next year. Garden beds need to be cleared and covered. Because my harvest has been minimal to non-existent, whatever vegetables I receive from farmer friends, the CSA and farmers markets are stowed away in various dark places or prepped, bagged, and frozen. Last month we made a big vat of chili and put away half, and this month we are preparing a vat of pasta sauce to have in the freezer. Little baggies of cabbage and onions and jalapenos are frozen for use in the endless bowls of ramen that will be consumed in the coming months.

This will be my third winter here, and I’m finally starting to understand the rhythm of the seasons, along with the countless mini-rhythms that spin off from them. Yesterday’s micro-rhythm was the changing of the bedlinens from the slick bamboo sheets I splurged on when I was temporarily wealthy to flannels and my faux-down comforter in a crisp duvet that makes a satisfying crinkly noise when I situate myself under it. It does such an efficient job at trapping my body heat that my midnight forays to the bathroom end with a satisfied “ahhhhhh” once I’m back in my nest. I’m swapping my house crocs for fuzzy slippers and considering getting more long-sleeved shirts with thumbholes cut out. I have supplementary heaters for my bedroom, office, and living room so I can cozy up in those spaces without moving the house thermostat up over 55.

When I look out of my windows, the grey sky is beautifully contrasted by the flame-colored leaves and still-green grass of the field across the street. Except for the asters and the as-yet-to-bloom daisies, the wildflowers in the yard have all gone to seed, and this year I discovered the inadvertent genius of letting the weeds grow around the coop and yard, as I watch the birds harvest the seeds. They leave the grain I throw out for them on the ground, but because the barn cats have been so effective at keeping the rodents away, it remains for them to peck at the next day. I’m glad for this brief reprieve from the pressures of feed costs, because winter is coming and feed is necessary and expensive in winter. I’m slowly adding protein-rich supplements to the scratch I throw out for them, and have set aside outdated grains and flour from my kitchen so I can make warm gruel as a winter treat for the flock. Next year the goal will be to have worm farms started in the spring so we have plenty of fresh mealworms and soldier fly larvae in the winter.

I have worked really hard these past two months to create a space for myself to relax in this home of mine. I am hoping to spend the cold seasons further sifting through and organizing, but also taking time to relax and enjoy my home with puzzles, good food, lots of reading, and snuggling in the big bed with my journals and planners.

I hope your autumn is equally cozy.

Let’s Panic Later

I’m currently on an extended mental health leave from work – trying to get my shit together so I can focus on my job when I return. The big thing I’m working on during this time is finishing moving in, reorganizing all of my spaces for maximum efficiency, and developing routines that will help me accomplish my goals so I don’t end up going back to work and being consumed by my job and then desperately trying to set up my systems on weekends and during vacations.

It’s the routines that I crave more than anything. I still haven’t gained a rhythm of the seasons here, though I’m getting better! And my home isn’t functioning the way I need it to, so lots of reorganizing needs to happen, but also – since there are always so many things to do on a 10-acre homestead – there is ALWAYS a sense that I’m leaving something incomplete and therefore I struggle to enjoy the things I love to do…and because I’m not doing the things I love to do, I am unmotivated to do the things I HAVE to do, and those things start to pile up again and I’m back where I started.

That’s where routines come in for me. Routines are things I do by rote, and then they are done. They can provide a sense of satisfaction – that feeling of COMPLETION. And if you do them daily or weekly, it can be very gratifying. Also, if I know I have a routine that involves tidying or taking care of something I have to look at every day, I can leave things until later because I have it built in to my plan.

I already have a couple of routines that serve me well, but they are actually more forced relaxation routines. For example, Every morning, my goal is to wake up by 6 AM and feed the feral cats on the front porch while reading whatever book or zine or magazine I’m working on. I’m rewarded by the company of the sweet kitties, my body gets to acclimate to the weather, and I get to start the day with fresh air. Once the cats are done eating, I release the chickens and do a visual inspection of the flock. I gather whatever eggs are in the coops and either feed them to the cats or store them, depending on how filthy they are. I’ve also been trying to head out to the barn and do some tidying there to slowly lurch towards my goal of cleaning out the barn. On my way, I inspect the hazelnut seedlings I planted at the beginning of the year and check around the area. Lately, though, I haven’t had a reliable watering situation for the birds, so I am filling a gallon bucket with water from the hose at the back of the house and bringing it up front. (I really need to look into getting a hose line run to the front of the house! It would definitely make chicken chores and gardening so much easier.) Regardless, this simple morning routine allows me to keep track of any chicken issues, observe the fruits of my labor, relax on the porch, take care of pet chores, and occasionally move other goals forward.

My brain is currently trying to envision a weekend routine that will free me up for more adventuring. What I’m working on is a quick cleaning routine of the main spaces that need attention weekly: My bedroom, my office, the kitchen & living room, and outside chores – which my goal is mostly to plan out those indoor chores so I can spend the majority of my time in autumn outside. If I break it down, what I can do is tidy my office after work on Friday, tidy up my bedroom before I start the day Saturday, and tidy the kitchen and living room Saturday afternoon. That leaves all Sunday for outdoor and creative things (including cooking! So maybe one more cleaning routine of the kitchen Sunday night would be good.)

I started working the plan today, and my bedroom is currently tidy. It’s not spotless, but I have other cleaning tasks in my system for that. This routine is just to make things tidy so my headspace is clear and I’m not feeling like I need to be doing something else when I’m already doing a thing. I’m about to run my weekend errands, and then I’m going to tackle the kitchen and watch youtube videos of people cleaning their spaces while I clean the living room. 🙂 Wish me luck & let me know if you have any routines that help you stay motivated to do the things you DON’T love so you can enjoy the things you DO love to do.

Solstice, 2020

It was 20 years ago when we spent the winter in Chicago after the birth of my youngest son. Unmoored and on the precipice of my life as a single parent, I ran away from home (to home.) The baby was relentlessly touch-hungry and spent all of his time attached to my body until we discovered the magic of the “vibro chair” into which I would buckle the clingy infant and proclaim “Set the vibro chair on stun!” before luxuriating in 20-30 glorious minutes of showering…or walking in the snow…or napping, maybe, unencumbered.

Before moving here, that was the last time I spent a significant amount of time in winter. My memories of the season before that are all disjointed, like snapshots from various periods in my life. The winter of my 25th birthday when I brought a boyfriend with me and he spent the entire time drunk and giggling, wearing woolen socks to the symphony. G & M threw me a big bday party and S’s girlfriend made spinach artichoke tip in a bowl made of bread and I still remember how delicious it was.

I remember snow on the ground when visiting my favorite pizza place with my mom when I would visit and in a blink I remember downtown in the little town where I lived – scurrying around buying gifts for everyone. I remember the winter the snow was dense and I was halfway to Clark Street when he yelled from Wellington “I LOVE YOU, L!”

I think it’s because holidays and birthdays that this time of year is so memorable, but also because the bite of the cold and the clarity in the air paints the brightest pictures.

Last year was our first year in Maine, and I have enjoyed reacquainting myself with winter. I’m taking things slow, but have been more present outdoors this year than last, due to the fact that I wake up every morning between 6-7 to let the chickens out. I try to get out to check on the birds on my lunch break, but by the time I’m off from work, it’s dark outside. A missed connection. If I’m not careful, the days sort of blend, one into another, without that shot of shifting landscapes to differentiate.

I just now realized the daylight hours are what I’m missing. The seasons here are so much more clearly defined than they were in Texas. I think I realized it last year, but this year I’m really FEELING it. I need to remind myself to linger outside in the mornings, and be intentional about going out on the weekends. I am always rewarded when I do.

Stolen meme

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about people who don’t think their ideas through to the logical outcomes. For a long time now, I’ve felt unsure about discussing politics in public forums, mostly because I am never entirely sure if I am right. However, I do spend a significant amount of time reading about history and philosophy, and while I do not think I am the greatest at remembering specific timelines or finding words to make the connections – I do understand context. I also feel very confident that my actions are typically aligned with my beliefs, and so are my philosophical beliefs. So, I can honestly say I agree with the above cartoon. Libertarianism is really motherfucking dumb.

New hens! As yet unnamed.

Which is not to say that we shouldn’t be oriented towards liberation. It’s just to say that I firmly believe my personal liberation is fundamentally bound to the liberation of all. I also believe every action has a consequence, and while I am not a fan of strategy games I do know that it’s important to consider all possible outcomes before committing myself to action. On a micro level, it’s why I’ve spent all weekend doing “chicken math,” and trying to figure out how to configure my poultry situation so everyone is happy. On a macro level, I have been thinking a lot about consensual accountability within groups. I feel like strong social bonds and meaningful relationships that are built on a framework of limiting or eliminating interpersonal harm is what SHOULD separate radicals from reactionaries.

Can you believe I fucking live here? I’m really enjoying my first full autumn in New England

It’s definitely a lot to think about. I’m very much an introvert and an extreme loner, but damnit if I don’t freaking NEED other people. And, because I need people, and I have a need for peace of mind, I don’t want an offhand or unconsidered action to hurt someone. And if it does, I want that someone (or someone who witnessed) to let me know, so I can avoid doing it again. It’s kind of that simple.

My morning ritual with my roosterful flock.

With this in mind, it’s really interesting to observe how chickens flock together. Prior to today, my flock consisted of 9 birds. Four of them are bantam, five are standard sized, all are cochins. I chose cochins because they are docile and friendly birds, usually. I was hoping to have at least one friendly rooster, and I ended up with at least 4…probably 5…POSSIBLY 6 out of 9 roosters.

Check out Aranea’s RIDICULOUS leg feathers.

One of the roosters is clearly the dominant roo. He is the one who wakes me up in the morning with constant crowing beginning at 6 AM. He’s a sweet bird, and he follows me around like a dog. However, he was partial to the two little bantam hens to a torturous degree that was difficult to watch. For awhile, it was sweet that those bantam ladies, along with one of the bantam roos (NOT Aranea – who is the other bantam roo and is a bit of a loner) would fly up onto my head and shoulders every morning to get their fair share of mealy worms without drama or trauma.

Another shot of little Aranea

Knowing I was going to have to split up the flock anyway, I set up a separate pen, assembled a prefabricated coop, and created a cozy little threesome with Nellie and Joy (the two little splash bantam hens) and Charlotte (their sweet rooster.) It’s been really nice to see them able to relax and act like normal chickens, rather than constantly running in terror from the giant cockerel. Charlotte seems to treat them well, even though he’s become kind of aggressive towards people. I may be adding some older hens to the flock to see if they will help me keep his ass in line.

I baked bread for the first time in a LONG time, and it wasn’t half bad!

I guess what I’m getting at here is there are always consequences to actions. The “chicken math” is about finding the best possible combination of variables to provide everyone involved with the best possible outcome. Today, I added 6 lovely cochin pullets (young hens) to the flock. They are super sweet and docile, and I kind of don’t even want to introduce a rooster to their whole situation. So it’s back to chicken math, trying to figure out what combinations will provide the best outcomes. Since we have a meat-eater in the house, it’s not out of the question that one of the roosters will end up in the freezer, but I would prefer to find a creative solution to my overabundance of roosters, and maybe learn a little bit about how to balance the needs of a flock in the meantime. Maybe a chicken version of The Bachelor (which is a show I have never watched, but I imagine it suits the scenario? Or maybe the bachelorette?)

Now Reading…

I’ve also been trying to read more. That zine above called Colonization and Decolonization is what I’m working on now. It has me thinking a LOT about how propagandized our high school history classes are. I wonder if the reason I was not interested in history for so long was because it felt so much like lies. When I discovered REAL history that is not tempered with patriotism and nationalism, I became more interested in it. Because when making choices about politics, I feel it’s pretty damn important to understand things contextually. At any rate, that particular zine is a very well-sourced and PERFECTLY edited concise history of colonization, and even though I know a lot of that history – it’s eye-opening to see it condensed into zine format in a thoughtful and thought-provoking way.

One of my few vivid memories of high school places me in my sociology class. I was listening to a lot of punk rock, which is where I learned a lot of the historical references that inform my thought today. The teacher was giving us “a quiz” – asking various questions that were meant to spark a discussion about politics. One of the questions he posed was “My country, right or wrong.” Do you believe this is how it should be?

My beautiful yard.

I was shocked to discover I was in the minority of people in my class who thought this was a harmful statement. I probably should have been more shocked that this was the first time I was able to discern the political/philosophical leanings of my classmates, as many of them were aggressively displeased that I disagreed with them. There were other questions of this ilk, for which the answers of my classmates were disturbingly nationalistic. I have spent a long time thinking about this, and continue to this day. When thinking about folks who support politicians or policies that I feel are harmful, I remember that classroom, and that teacher, who – though he was careful not to reveal what he thought was the “right” or “wrong” answer – I felt was firmly in my corner.

More fall beauty

I’m not sure I have a point here, except that I’ve been thinking about this. How people form opinions, particularly harmful ones. And also how deeply we are propagandized in our public schools. Our history textbooks normalize genocide in the interest of maintaining an illusion of “exceptionalism.” But the reality is that descendents of colonizers all have blood an our hands, and the VERY LEAST we can do is learn about history so we can vigilantly guard against repeating before we even have a chance to attempt to repair the damage we have done as a society and culture.

So, that’s just a peek into my thoughts this week…accompanied by some pics of my lovely situation here in Maine. ❤ Now I need to go to sleep!

After the Wrecking Ball…

It’s difficult to be writing this when the entire world is once again exploding in righteous rage over injustice – in this case Breonna Taylor. I haven’t wanted to read the verdict, but I have skimmed over headlines enough to know one of three were indicted and for firing into neighboring units ONLY. Which, and again – ENTIRELY based on my currently uninformed opinion – just sounds more insulting than no indictments.

The reality is – this is how it is now. And if I keep waiting for a time that is right to talk about or process about my own feelings and thoughts in a way that is helpful to me in this semi-anonymous venue…it will never be time. And there will always be other more pressing things to do. And this is the thesis upon which my entire time management system is built and STILL, I would rather make time worrying over headlines than write, or plan, or study. It’s been like this for at least the past 6 months, if not longer…and I really do feel now that the best self-care for me is to care about myself enough to start setting some obtainable goals and attempting to accomplish them. And, since I tend to set my intentions and rhythms on the changes of seasons – now is a good time to set them.

I spent the actual equinox traveling to Vermont to empty a storage container that has been filled with approximately 5 boxes that were packed and stored for us when my eldest son returned home from college unexpectedly and was not able to return back. I was in shock over circumstances that brought him home and I vaguely remembering paying a nice man a bunch of money to do the packing and then forgetting completely about it for a few months, until I suddenly realized I hadn’t been billed for the storage.

I penned an email to the man, asking where I was supposed to be sending payments. His sister responded, asking “Could you please call?”

Her brother – the man who performed such a kind and useful service for me – had recently died. They found my boxes in his home and were hoping I would reach out.

We shared a good cry together over this. I thanked her profusely for her consideration and she had the boxes but in storage for me. And there they have been…for 3 years.

Let me tell you – those three years haven’t been the most joyful years of my life. It’s been pretty rough, tbh…but not without its share of sweetness and reward. And each of the years following seem to have involved some sort of road trip of actual or impending doom around this time of year – and then last year was the year I first visited the house I am currently living in. So I guess if this was the end we could say Everything Turned Out Fine.

But so much is uncertain – for myself and for so many people I love and people I don’t even know but I’m sure I would love and even for those assholes that I ain’t give a shit about. I try my best to be optimistic, but I have no idea what the future holds. The future is unwritten?

It feels *too* hopeful without the question mark.

It’s September, and I haven’t done my annual plan yet. That’s where I am. It’s on my to-do list. But I suppose I can always start a new year any time now. My annual plan is just gathering all of the information I need to maintain this house over the course of a year. This includes the gardens and landscape, interior, exterior, and all of the domesticated critters (and perhaps some treats for the wilds.) I suspect it will take a couple of years for me to get a good rhythm going. I have a start, but not enough. I can feel the shift to autumn and indoor activities happening already, but there’s still plenty to do outside for now.

For one thing, it’s making sure I can get the chickens set up in separate areas without encouraging a bloody turf war. I’ve separated the little bantam hens and one of the roosters into a larger pen, because the big roosters were harassing them and causing them grief and strife. Every morning, I would go out to feed the birds some mealy worms, and the littles would fly up onto my shoulders. I truly wanted to believe it was because they loved me so, but it became very clear it was mostly because they were being terrorized by the loud-ass roster who follows me around like a dog. Or maybe like a creepy stalker guy. We haven’t decided which, but we’re hoping we don’t end up having to deal with a flock of aggressive roosters, because that’s not going to end well for ANYONE.

I have some contingency plans that involve adding hens and perhaps segregating roosters to the other side of the property, and all of those things will be tried before we start talking about freezer camp. There is a meat-eater among us who thinks he is brave enough to kill and dress his own meat and I don’t know that I want to discourage that if it comes down to it. But, for now, everyone is at peace, and the bantams have a cozy little threesome situation going on that, frankly, I do not want to disturb or disrupt. Those poor ladies have earned it, and I will tolerate if their roo is a little fussy over them, because he’s sweet to them. And it’s been so interesting to witness how they change in different situations. I have an eye on the remaining hen (or hens – the jury is out on whether ol’ Templeton is a hen or a roo, but it sure looks like Aunt Edith is – along with Fern, Uncle Hen, and Aranea (the other bantam.) I may have to subtract 2-3 roos from that situation and add 2-4 hens to keep the peace. But I think it’s also true I’ll have the winter to figure it out, and perhaps winter is a good time to get some hens that folks may not want to support with winter feed.

Those are my chicken goals. I’m sort of just making this all up as I go. I suspect this will require that I construct or find or buy another coop at some point. If I hang on to all of these roos – soon I may have little chicken federations dotting the landscape. Which I guess isn’t so bad.

The roosters have gifted me with an urgent reason to wake up in the morning, and I’m glad for that. I always wondered what being a morning person was all about, and I quite enjoy it…but it’s hard for me to maintain. I’m setting the intention to continue living in my current time when we fall back – meaning instead of setting my alarm for 6 AM and stretching my getting out of bed sometimes all the way to 7 AM…when the time change happens, I’m going to start setting my alarm for 5 AM (which is technically the same time) and seeing if that will move me closer to my goal of actually DESIRING to get out of bed in the morning.

This goal is often hampered by my excessive media viewing, and therefore I aim to stop spending so much time in front of screens this quarter. It’s gonna be weird, because I’ll be in the house more, so the temptation will be great to veg out…but I might move back to the rule that if I’m watching TV, I’m on the treadmill or folding laundry…with one movie night a week.

As my time in the garden winds down, I want to continue to maintain and build my strength and endurance using the exercise bike or treadmill when I’m unable to be outside.

I want to fully plan and prepare for a decent spring garden. I’ve been building infrastructure to organize myself and set reminders, but I’m still working on details. I have a bunch of garlic on order to plant next month, and I’m putting in bulbs and broadcasting seeds for spring flowers. We’re hoping to broadfork a big space and cover it with cardboard, compost, and mulch before the ground freezes. I need to put the asparagus bed to bed, and plan for planting strawberry crowns in the spring. I am willing to bet there will be a zillion and one volunteer tomato plants in that bed, as well.

I need to make sure to put the other trees and shrubs to bed. I’m learning how to care for my blueberries, peach, forsythia, and lilacs. I feel like the apple tree may be a lost cause, and I haven’t been able to find an arborist that specializes in fruit trees. All of the fruit-bearing branches are super high up, and the lower branches all appear to be dead. I need to research that, as well.

What can nI say – the dudes dig me…

I may be way too late to start veggies in a cold frame, but if I can eek it in, I will. I am just waiting to move the chickens.- which is more difficult than you might think. I’m not gonna stress about it too much, though. I may throw row covers on my deck beds and see if I can get some herbs and green onions going in the kitchen greenhouse (which may expand into a mudroom annex.)

I’m still scared to death of power tools, but I am also still working on psychologically overcoming my fears. Lately, I’ve noticed myself thinking about the concepts of building in ways I never could have imagined, so I’m going to just be patient with myself. If I work on organizing a work space in the garage this season – I can start using that space to do small projects next season.

One of the things that is out of balance in my life is human contact. Too often I find myself thinking I am totally fine with not being around other people, and that’s not wrong. However, it has come to my attention that I probably actually need people…and that maybe it’s ok for people to also need me. I’ve been unreliable in so many parts of my life. I intend to work on this. I desire to continue sorting out my feelings about my current living situation.


Baking and experimenting in the kitchen is another thing I would like to make more time for. This is one of those enjoyable things that I never get around to because there are too many other “important” things to do. I will once again set this intention, as well as all of the intentions around making sure to eat what is fresh and most nutritionally available as much as possible.

Practically speaking: I need to see the dentist, I need to see the eye doctor, I need to get my Maine license plates and maybe also snow tires this year (and I need to figure out how to get that annoying hazy film off of the inside of my windshield.) Oh, and now that I’ve been in this house for a full year, just about – I need to actually sit down and write a budget and, like, stick to it. It’s been fun being temporarily wealthy, but…um…I am trying to support three people on a single (not-so-great-believe-me) income, and…yeah. That.

To come full circle – it is also my intention to overcome some of this fear of irrelevance and just do what I need to do to convey my truth. No one has to read this, but it helps me to organize my thoughts and hold myself modestly accountable, so I’m doing it! My intention is to post at least one more blog post this quarter (hopefully more, but I’m going to start with one.) and publish at least one zine (again – hopefully more…but I was overly ambitious at the start of the year, and when I saw a publishing schedule I did what any respectable zinester would do and started composing long intros about how sorry I am that this issue is so late. (And what better excuse than a pandemic and the rise of global fascism for a “sorry this issue is so late” missive!)

This looks like a cozy spot for an understory garden and maybe a summer home for more birds?

I would also like to do more organizing in the house, and hanging art, and carving out spaces…but that all will get done around the other work. I’m still feeling my way around this place. Today, I walked the perimeter and noticed 2-3 potential new garden sits. I can’t get ahead of myself. Slow and steady wins the race.

First of all, congratulations, and I’m sorry. Congratulations for raising a human being who cares enough to put their body on the line to defend and protect their and others’ communities. I’m sorry this courage comes with possible costs. As a mother and a protester, I wanted to make sure you have information to calm your anxiety and keep your kiddos safe.

In general, our kiddos know more than we give them credit for and are completely capable of taking care of themselves and their comrades. It’s also true that sometimes our kiddos think they are more capable than they actually are. Whatever the case, do your best to communicate with them well before they hit the streets to make sure they are prepared and know that you have their back.

The following is a brief list of things you might want to mention to them, and things you may want to consider or do yourself at different stages of the protest.

Before the Action:

Is your kiddo attending trainings or meetings in advance of the protest? Often groups will hold “training camps” to convey important safety information and group guidelines. If your youth is attending anything like this, please make sure the group that is conducting the training is well-organized and open to questions, and encourage your young adult to bring a friend or two along, even if those friends aren’t necessarily going to protest with them. You might even consider going yourself! If they aren’t being conducted by a group your kiddo already knows well, these trainings should be all-inclusive and welcoming to the community. Avoid and discourage attending any trainings that are conducted in secrecy by people you and your offspring aren’t already familiar with.

If they are able to go to a pre-protest training, they should find out how to identify medics (typically medics are identifiable by red crosses,) legal observers (typically legal observers wear green hats,) and others who can provide information during the protest. It’s good to form associations with trusted folks who can be asked for help during the course of the protest. Whether there is a training or not, it’s a good idea to ask if there will be any legal aid or jail support available should anyone be arrested. Having that information in advance can give you tremendous peace of mind if your young one is snatched up.

If there is no in-person pre-protest training, there may be information posted online or elsewhere. Encourage your family member to not be shy about asking for information in advance. Most open protests are organized by SOMEONE, usually a group of someones, and those organizers will want you to have access to information that will keep you safe.

Encourage your kiddo to participate with friends. While it is possible to go it alone, it’s not recommended to be out there on your own. If they do not have a buddy, offer to be there for them to check in periodically. Set a check-in time and a plan for what to do and who to call if they do not respond. If you have any friends who will also be attending, see if you can arrange an on-site check-in. This is not helicopter parenting. This is keeping your loved one safe. Hopefully, if your kiddo is woke enough to be out in the streets defending the lives and rights of others, they will understand that you want to defend and protect them. However, if they do not want to check in with you, encourage them to check in with a trusted friend, and try not to take it too personally…as long as they are checking in.

You might suggest the smaller group of protest buddies that your kiddo is involved with share their full legal names and birthdays with you, their family members, and trusted friends who are supporting them offsite. This will help if anyone is arrested, especially if there are any folks involved who do not have the same loving support you are providing. If you want to communicate in a private and secure way, have everyone download end-to-end encrypted messaging apps, such as Signal or Telegram.

Make sure your kiddo knows that they will want to follow the lead and listen to the voices of those who are most directly impacted by the consequences of any action they individually, or the group collectively, takes. Without judging, find a way to discourage any actions that might endanger those among them who are likely to be targeted for disproportionate retaliation. Encourage them to defend and protect those among them who are vulnerable to this targeting. If they’ve made a commitment to be there, they should be ready and willing to support the cause and take care of their comrades. Protesting is a group and community activity. There is no room for “lone wolf” actions. Hopefully all of the good parenting you’ve provided up to this point has instilled an understanding of structural imbalance and oppression. If not, if your kiddo is white or enjoys any structural privilege, you might want to discourage them from attending until they understand how to ensure they are not reproducing oppression in the streets.

The Day of the Action:

Make sure your kiddo has a healthy meal and dresses for success! 

  • Comfortable Shoes
  • Multiple layers & cover skin
  • Goggles or shatter-resistant glasses for front line
  • MASK UP! 
  • A bicycle helmet can be helpful in case of police aggression

Ask if they’ve packed a bag with some or all of the following items:

  • First Aid kit with bandages, antibacterial ointment, aspirin or ibuprofen, gauze, alcohol wipes, disinfectant, and any essential medication in original packaging
  • Dry bandana
  • Baby wipes – water-based – OR – paper towels in solution of baking soda/water
  • Eye drops
  • Pen, paper, markers
  • Snacks and water
  • Backup battery/charger
  • Important numbers
  • Towels & extra clothes in second bag for extra cushion

If you have a phone number for legal aid, it’s a good idea for your kiddo to write it in permanent marker somewhere on their body – preferably hidden, so it doesn’t look like they are asking to get arrested. Advise them to watch their backs, always have an exit route, try not to get separated from their group, and stay centered on their personal limitations and boundaries. The day of the protest is NOT the time to plan some sort of daring, heroic act. Those kinds of actions take a lot of time to plan and are generally carried out by groups of people with emergency exit plans in advance.

During the Action

Try not to worry too much! Almost every protest I’ve been to is a life-affirming experience where people on the ground take good care of each other. Regardless, your little birdy has flown from the nest for now, and no amount of worrying will help. See if you can find some livestreams of action on the ground to keep track of the general tenor of the action. If you have other parent friends whose kids are attending – check in with them to relieve the stress. Breathe. Take a bubble bath. Do those self-care things you do when you are worried. Try not to check in too much. You want your kiddo to be alert and not worried about you worrying about them.

What to Expect if They Get Arrested

Getting arrested in a protest can be a frightening thing for the person being arrested and the loved ones who support them. Generally speaking, though, the jail time is minimal and if a whole group is arrested, there is some degree of solidarity among the protesters that can be helpful in surviving the situation. Usually there are lawyers willing to do pro-bono work to get protesters released and charges dropped, but that doesn’t really help you when you are worrying about your sweet baby, I know. (Sorry for any kiddos reading this, but most parents will ALWAYS consider you their “sweet baby.” They just will. Get over it, man! It’s because we love you!) If you were provided information in advance, go ahead and get in touch with those folks. If not, contact an organizer of the protest to see if there is any organized jail support. Usually jailed protesters are released within 24 hours. Arrest and arraignment records are public, and you should be able to access them on the internet.

Often times, supporters will congregate outside of the jail for a “noise rally” to let the jailed protesters know folks are there for them. Organizers will also typically order food and comfort items to give to jailed protesters after they are released. You should be welcomed and celebrated by organizers doing jail support, and it’s typically a very safe place for you to be if you want to be around other people while you wait for your loved one to be released.

Once the jailed protesters have been released, if charges are not dropped, the appointed lawyer, or the lawyer you hire, will work with you on your case. It is often true that charges do not stick and, barring extremes, most protesters will not even see real jail time. However, it is important to document everything immediately to ensure the best case possible. 


I hope the information contained in this zine has been helpful to you. Please feel free to reach out if there is any information that you feel is unclear or incorrect, or any important information you feel needs to be added. This blog post will be a living document until I’m sure we’ve covered everything we can reasonably cover, and then I will publish it as a zine.

Stay safe, protect your communities, and see you in the streets.


Unruly Mom

Crustacean Zine Library

Oh Shit! What Now?

For more information, please refer to our other zine “Protest 101.”

All Secrets Sleep in Winter Clothes


Today, I mourn my mama on her birthday, and I celebrate what she has inspired in me.


Tomorrow, I go back to work for the first time since my move. I imagine resuming a routine schedule will add an additional layer of “real”ness to this place where I have ended up. This place I now call “home.”

This house feels so new and old to me. I haven’t lived in a multi-story home since I lived with my mom and family, and it’s alarming but somewhat comforting to experience acoustic memories. The echos of doors closing on a different floor. Low rumbling conversations from the kitchen. Footfalls on staircases. Dog barks.


I can barely remember the journey we took to get here. It’s all been a bit of a whirl. The house sold quickly. Much quicker than we expected, but still somehow perfectly timed. And then there was a road trip to Maine, via St. Louis, Chicago, Oberlin, Flemington…and a few other points in between.


We went looking for a house and then we found a house. We lost that house and found another house, which we also lost, so we found another house, and in the midst of deciding about that house, the second house came back and that is the house we chose. The house that chose us. The house that circled back.


We headed back to Texas with fingers crossed, slowly packed the POD with the random crap we couldn’t bring ourselves to part with, including 2 cats and 1 dog (the other dog went, with the car, with the other (adult) child.)


All of the states and places between Austin and this place in central Maine where we currently reside are a jumble in my memory. There was good food, and fun adventures. Wilbur, the Great Pyrenees, learned about elevators and mastered hotel rooms.


We sadly lost one of our cats at the end of the journey. She disappeared inside the new house. We miss her. There is talk of future kitten(s).


And chickens


And the building of chicken coops


And gardens


(most of this talk is coming from me)


But I didn’t want this to be a play-by-play. I just wanted to say…I am home. I am very satisfied. The right house wasn’t at all what I was expecting it to be, but now that we’ve been here a month, I know it is the Right House.


It is the right place. And I am quietly and continually overjoyed.



My greatest accomplishment of the week was cleaning out the fridge

The best part about sporadic (if ever) blogging is that it attracts an audience of sporadic (maybe never) readers. So I can narrate my life without fear of being negatively critiqued by an audience. Narrating in my journal nets a certain type of writing that isn’t necessarily for public consumption – more due to banality than any sort of prurience, though I’m not sure this blog post will be any less banal.

Still, there is something true about my last post. Dated 2 years ago, and promising regular-ish updates for no other reason than to mark changes and time, that post was made after the first in a series of difficult realizations about the health of my family that have been ongoing ever since, and have required a good deal of growth and all of my available resources to adjust to. In the midst of all of this, plans have been made. Attempts to stay connected to life have been made. Little stabs at processing using the written word have been made. Disparate tendrils of my life have been pruned back significantly to focus energy on the tendrils that are…well, tenderest. With gentle plans of a better future warming us like a distant sun.

When I started to reclaim the yard and garden and house, I felt like I was on the precipice of something. I was, but it turned out to be another precipice of something else. And perhaps that is just the nature of life, but this next precipice feels at the same time a great deal more harrowing with the promise of being infinitely more rewarding in the end. I have already been given and have spent my generational wealth. Now is my time to protect and grow what remains to ensure the future of those who remain in my family. These are big choices I am making, but I am thrilled and elated to think where I may be a year from now. Where reclaiming the garden was limited in scope and vision, these changes are a black box in my life in which everything internal and external in my life will transform into something I can’t even conceive of right now. It is a form of anarchy to make big changes like this midway or further in life, and start completely over. And I need that. I desire it.

My approach to it has been measured, and almost frustratingly so. However, the cautious pace I have adopted has already proven to give me advantage. I have a plan in motion, and I anticipate that when everything comes together, we will enact the plan. We’ve already changed mid-stream once or twice, and the changes have been for the better, and the time has allowed me to broaden and expand my vision of what our lives will be like. And yet, I am still ready to be surprised by what actually happens.

It’s like having a perpetual birthday present in front of me with a big sign on it that says “wait until you are ready to open this.” And I know I know I know I’m not ready, but I really want to open that present. So I have bursts of getting ready, and bursts of being ok with taking my time…and that is pretty much my life of late. Bursts of being agonizingly frustrated with where I am now interspersed with bursts of that quiet knowing that I will get there when I am ready. Slow and steady wins the race.

The Light Pours Out Of Me


Hey all of whoever reads this. It’s been awhile. I’ve been thinking about posting, but quite honestly I feel like the stuff I’m going through in life requires a much more secure form of processing. I miss blogging – but it’s the community of bloggers I miss more than anything. I have thankfully usurped most of that community into my daily social media feeds, but do we really share the way we used to? There are so many opportunities for nefarious behavior on the internet, and so little opportunity for sincere connections. I miss those days when one could form an honest and intimate friendship with someone based strictly on the words they wrote. When blogs weren’t about buying and selling products, and the popular blogs weren’t immediately monetized. Yes, that world once existed. Perhaps there’s a subculture in which that aesthetic still does exist, but I haven’t experienced it in blogging for a long time.

Things have been rough here this past month, and it’s difficult to see past the difficulty right now, though I know I will eventually. No one ever told me that these little beings I created would eventually grow up and their feelings about life would complicate my own feelings about life so dramatically, but that’s where we are. I worked so hard to guide them through life and not let harm come to them, only to reach a point where it turns out the harm has been contained within them all along. The call is coming from inside the house, and there is nothing I can do to unplug that phone. All I can do is stand here on the outside with a warm blanket and a place to crash when they finally emerge from the struggle. I’d love to be able to tell you that it’s easy to do that, but everything in my body wants to run into that house and kick the ass of the knife-wielding lunatic that is threatening them, but I’m trapped out here with this damn blanket, trying to hold it together so I can mitigate the damage – and not add to it – when they emerge.

I am thankful that my place of employment values my work as a parent and therefore allows me time off to stand here with this blanket while I wait for them to emerge, and even extra time to make sure they are safe and warm, before I am forced to return to work. I am fortunate that this is the case, although I’m angry that it takes luck for anyone to be able to tend to loved ones when they desperately need tending to. I’ve taken 2 weeks so far, and it looks like I’ll need another 2 weeks to ensure everything stabilizes around here before I go back.

I’m using my time to tend to myself as well. Cooking healthy meals, taking walks, spending lots of time getting dog snuggles, driving grown children around town and to various appointments and social functions. Writing in my journal. Establishing a rhythm of the day/week/month. Little things that fall apart when a 40-hour workweek is my primary focus.

I thought I would have more energy for organizing, but it seems that my brain is rejecting anything that feels like work or that doesn’t immediately fulfill the needs of those in my direct care. Anything else feels like swimming through a sea of honey – tempting at first, but ultimately just a big sticky mess that doesn’t allow for any forward progress. Wishing I could go back to a time when it was easier, but realizing…it’s always been pretty fucking difficult. There have just been times when the work has been more rewarding. And the work will be rewarding again. I know it will. But right now – it’s pretty fucking unrelentingly unrewarding.

One thing about blogging that was helpful and that I miss is the tracking of progress. So, this is where I am right now. I might not write every day, but I will try to write once a week or so. For the purposes of tracking. Let this blog be the rope that anchors me as I plunge into this otherworld of gelatinous goo. I will emerge periodically, scrape the caul from my eyes, and write again.