She Ain’t Heavy she my Strudel

I’m lying in bed, not an uncommon occurrence nowadays, though I am cutting myself some slack since it’s early on a Saturday morning. I got up to feed and water the chickens since they were up and making their cranky “WE ARE AWAKE ATTEND TO US RESISTANCE IS FUTILE” noises.

As an aside, it’s been fun being home “with” them. They get so excited the second I appear in the backyard, since I often have treats or scraps for them. I hear their noises change throughout the day and sometimes I call to them and they call back. Or they yell at birds or squirrels. Sometimes I see them seeing me through the window, while I’m working. I am reminded of the first summer I had chickens, before library school started, and I could just kind of hang out with tiny Franny and my teenaged sister and watch them and experiment on them all day long.

I guess I was lying here thinking about how the summer went. We had a big meal last night that seemed very sad and Farewell to Summer since it is both the last holiday weekend and supposed to be cloudy all weekend. We ate tomato salad and ribs and watermelon, and some pretty unsuccessful potato salad with eggplant that I would not recommend at all. The eggplant went right to mush.

Strudel’s been off wheat for the whole summer, with occasional “oops” moments here and there. I think it took her backsliding a few times to realize the immediate results. I packed her lunch for camp all summer, which was challenging, since camp was a “nut free zone.” If you aren’t eating wheat and you can’t bring nuts or do nut butter, and you’re packing a lunch for all day, including two snacks, you’re looking at trying to transport and store some cold things, like cheese, meats, salad, and the little jars of milk kefir I have been making.

I tried sending her with gluten-free, nut-free bars, but of course they came with the CYA labeling business of “may have at one time been driven by a facility that was thinking about processing nuts” and were sent home again. I tracked down one brand (which I will not bother linking since adherents will know it and no one else cares) that made bars in a “DEDICATED NUT FREE FACILITY!” The upside was that the ingredients weren’t awful, kind of like nutless Larabars, but they had names like “chocolate brownie” that made them sound very treat-y.

This year there was a counselor who had a large and firmly lodged stick up his ass, and the skinny was that the kids pretty much hated him, but it was becoming increasingly obvious over the summer that he had a real boner for messing with Strudel. He saw these bars (I actually sent the box in with them so they would have the full NUT FREE literature to peruse) and somehow deemed them unacceptable for a snack. The idea was that a bar and a piece of fruit could be her afternoon snack, since by then the cold things in her bag would need to be eaten earlier due to the fact that her ice packs only remained frozen through noon or so.

He told her she had to eat the bar with lunch as “dessert,” but I knew other kids had granola bars for snacks and things that looked healthier, but I am sure had just as much sugar. Most of the counselors were aware that most kids brought lunch but there were a couple of allergic kids who had to pack in morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack for themselves, since they couldn’t eat things the camp would pass out, like Goldfish crackers.

I sat down and wrote a letter to the director that night, which I felt was necessary but incredibly lame. I always have these conflicting twinges of “HOORAY I AM MY CHILD’S ADVOCATE” mixed with the shame of “ugh I am helicoptering.” I think I get these feelings because I was raised on the “Go play in the street, kid” side of things.

I got jumped on the bus when I was in second grade by three older boys. Black eye, clumps of hair falling out from being pulled out, generally terrified. I got off the bus crying and my mother picked me up.

“What’s wrong with you?”

“I got beat up on the bus by some boys.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”


WHAT THE FUCK. I got in trouble later for biting one of them in self defense. Since my mother didn’t call the school or get involved, and his parents had, it was assumed that I was the perpetrator. He and I made friends later in high school in government class, when I was a junior and he was a senior. We sat in the back together. I was stoned every day because A. it was right after lunch and B. it was HELLA BORING. He used to make fun of me for being a stoner and then…he discovered pot himself.

“I get it now, I’m sorry,” he said. He showed me the faint scar on his forearm that still bore the impression of my dental record at eight years old.

SHIT WHERE WAS I? Okay, so I drafted this sad letter to the camp director, about how Strudel cannot eat wheat, and the challenge of packing one full meal and two light ones without bread products or nuts. I said I respected the nut rule, and I hoped her limitations could be accommodated, including letting her eat a snack bar as a snack and not “dessert.” It was granted. It was all very silly, but whatever it takes to make this work right now.

Friday was swimming day at camp, and on her last Friday she was going to be a late arrival so she asked me if she could just wear her swimsuit under her clothes at camp. I came into her room to ask her something, and was struck by how tall and lean she looked. Then I realized: for the first time ever, she didn’t have a rock-hard, distended belly. I had found myself wondering when she was going to grow out of her belly, since it seemed like that little kid pot belly was sticking with her much later than Franny’s had. I remember my mother prodding mine at Strudel’s age and saying things like, “Wow, you’re getting really chunky!”

A couple of times during the last school year Strudel had even asked me if I thought she was fat (what is that sound? Oh, it’s my heart breaking a little). There were vague references to this stemming from conversations with girls at school who thought they were fat, and it made Strudel think about her own body. We had talks about how athletic she is and how eating and having some fat is critical for your body and brain. We got to the bottom of it, and she was becoming self conscious about her belly. I pointed out that it was firm. I showed her my stomach, and had her poke through my squishy places, down to the muscle underneath. “Here, feel this. This is what fat feels like. You’re not like this. And even if you had some fat like me, it’s really not the end of the world AT ALL. Big deal. Your body works GREAT, right?”

Well, this was true overall, but it seems like her body was not working quite as well as it could. Stomachaches were normal, and daily, just like my childhood. I didn’t know she was having diarrhea regularly, and thought that was normal. And she was a VERY rough customer. She was crabby a lot of the time. I have posted videos of her having ten or twenty minute tantrums years ago. She has turned over furniture–lamps, tables, dressers. Trying to do something simple, like get her into the shower, or put her clean clothes away, would turn into a five minute shouting match (a one-sided match, though, really). I learned to get her motivated faster by being kind of a wall and never letting her bait me. She had her sweet moments and her great moments, but she was a very testy person, and a screamy baby.

It’s like a switch flipped this summer. We’ve tried the wheat-free thing before, most notably a couple of years ago, but I knew she was cheating A LOT, so her stomachaches were lessened, but there was no significant change. Now she is being very diligent about her consumption on her own, because she can see the difference. She is a delight to be around, and unless she is overtired, is in a great mood. She had a breakdown last night over something that happened while we were playing Killer Bunnies, and I realized it was after nine and she was getting non-functional.

“Okay, bedtime,” I said. I braced myself for an explosion and for the air to turn blue but it didn’t come.

“FINE,” she said, and semi-stomped to the bathroom to brush her teeth. Then she went to bed. It was like magic compared to the past, as recently as springtime.

After she dressed for her last day of camp (camp was going on for two more weeks after that, but I was keeping her home with me and her sister through the start of school) I brought her in and said I’d see her at the end of the day. I picked her up and I could see from her eyes that something had gone down and it turns out it was with the counselor who had the stick up his ass.

“You won’t believe this! I was talking to [Favorite Counselor] and I found out she can’t eat wheat either! And [Counselor Asshat] heard us talking and he said ‘Oh, you’re weird like Strudel’ to her. And then…the director walked by and heard him and FIRED HIM!”

I am so glad she got to witness that.

Now I am going to embarrass P. and say that he forgot what time our anniversary dinner was on Sunday, which he had planned. We were going to have a multi-course Medieval meal at a place an hour away. By the time he looked at our tickets we realized we would be late for our seating and would miss a lot of it.

I had to ask him the awkward question, since he’s forgotten about our last few plans/date nights/family dinners together unless I really keep on top of him. We sat in the bathroom, dressed up, and talking about what to do and what had happened. It wasn’t a fight, but I think we wanted to parley quietly, out of earshot of the children. Should we drive anyway and be very late? Should we go somewhere else? Should we bag it and stay home? That sounded depressing.

“Uhh. So. It seems like you enjoy spending time with me at home and like seeing me. But maybe do not want to go out with me places?”

He told me he honestly could not remember, and that was about as deep as it went. He wasn’t trying to send me a message or anything.

I was sad and I said so but I regrouped and made quick reservations at one of my favorite places that is known for being local, organic, seasonal, and very difficult-diet friendly. I had gotten results from some blood tests a few days before that indicated it is likely I am Celiac (yes, I have buried this boring lede. I am still thinking about whether or not to pursue an endoscopy. Probably should to assess the damage, and I am still going to an endocrinologist next month.). I thought this restaurant would be better for me, though would probably contain 100% fewer lute players and people shouting “huzzah!” alas.

I told P. that it seemed like his memory was getting worse. He agreed wholeheartedly that it has been, and he was having trouble at times even tracking conversations due to brain fog, which sounded a lot like me.

“Do you want to maybe try doing what I’m doing and take a break from wheat?”

I told him about the great mental clarity I’d had in May when I did a Whole30. He agreed it was pretty harmless to try it, and went off wheat that night.

Well. I was shocked how much it affected him, since he seems to tolerate wheat well. He had a fever, sweating, gastrointestinal distress, and by Wednesday–a sharper brain and better recall than he’s had in months or years. He’s been eating very well, veggies, meats, salads, nuts, so he is not plugging his empty gluten hole with junk. He woke up this morning and told me he remembered a dream (very rare for him) and it was something about forgetting to write an item we were out of on our chalkboard list.

“It was paper towels,” I said.

“Yes! We ran out of paper towels.”

“You remembered that you forgot something. That is huge,” I said.

“Before I wouldn’t have remembered that I forgot something.”

We are like 90-year-old dementia patients coming out of a haze. A whole house of freaks. FUCK!

“You can’t take a picture of this–it’s already gone.”

Last year we completely forgot about the Polar Bear Plunge until about 1 p.m. Whoops. While the experience itself on 1/1/2012 was neat, it was like most Seattle events–inconvenient parking, crowds, a shitton of waiting.

“I want to do it this year, but without the hassle,” he said.

“You could just go in the bathtub,” I said. “Or, I could hose you down. Same result really.” I thought I was being funny and then I saw his eyes light up.

Happy New Year!

Posted in P

Wide Open Beavers Inside!

”If you want to know who your friends are, get yourself a jail sentence.”
–Charles Bukowski

It’s turnabout this weekend. My friend Laurie who I recently stayed with in San Francisco is now here with me.

It’s a gorgeous day and the tomatoes have died and so the chickens once again roam the Earth. Well, the limits of their Earth. They are happy to be out of their summer pen and they look TERRIBLE. The older ladies are molting, possibly worse than I have ever seen any of my chickens go. They look diseased, except they are just missing feathers, of course.

[Not pictured: dag chickens]

Like the chickens, I am sort of pecking away at my house. Hanging pictures and switching out things like doorbell covers, because brushed chrome is not where it’s at. Besides, you can see the little original outline in the cedar, right? When this house was built, space was the place.

There is something about places being exposed in houses that are normally not that makes me think of surgery, or of parts of the body. I see a sad vulnerability, as if I can see a place for what it really is. Sometimes I feel guilty when I have friends over when I am half through a project and you can see through the walls. Sorry, I want to say to the house, and throw a gown over it. It’s all a big metaphor, isn’t it? Nothing’s ever as together or as whole as it seems.

I think this is part of the reason I went crazy living in a three-year remodel of a very small house. There were constantly gaping wounds everywhere.

As an aside to Kurt Vonnegut and wide-open beavers, I wrote one of my high school term papers on Breakfast of Champions. I liked the idea that something could be so raw and smutty and still make me feel my feelings, all six of them. Also I think duality and insanity are some of my favorite themes, after death.

My contractor says he has obtained permits to begin construction, so what I really need to do, which terrifies me, is commit to about a billion dollars worth of tile. The purchase I am looking forward to is giant tub of doom. The upstairs tub is one of those short 50s bastards that is for kids or dogs and needs to be refinished to boot.

In Other News

Strudel was in the living room on Friday morning before school, braiding something, or sorting something with her dolls. Her favorite dolls are having a little hiatus because she broke a door on the chicken coop (long story there) so she was playing with the second stringers. Franny was at the table, attempting to memorize the capitals of the Northeast.

I walked from the kitchen, through the dining room, and towards the bathroom. I was getting ready for work. As I passed through the dining room, Strudel spoke to her sister.

“…So that’s someone ELSE added to my shitlist now.”

“What!” I interrupted. “How do you have a shitlist? You’re eight years old. What are you, Tiny Nixon?”

“Her sub sounds pretty bad, Mom,” Franny said, in Strudel’s defense.

“She’s a yeller, she yells at everyone. She’s talking to one person and yelling at them and it’s too loud. Everyone hates it.”

“Hmm, fair enough,” I said.

I don’t know what to do with this. I just needed to write it down.

P. made danishes this morning. I think I like the blackberry ones best.

Frannys Gonna Fran

I think it’s funny that she’s spending a lot of time lately trying on what teenagers are “supposed” to be. The other day she stomped off to her room shouting “NOW I’M GOING TO SLAM MY DOOR BECAUSE HORMONES” and went in and closed it with a little snick. She wasn’t even mad as far as I can tell. Though some times, it’s stormy for real.

Lazy Crazy Days of Summer

This morning I woke up and the sun was low. I worked for a while and then it popped its head up through the trees and started eating the mist in my yard, which was swirling around. The mist and air reminds me of being in the woods foraging for mushrooms. The temperature has just been perfect–not muggy-hot, but not cold, either. Cloudy and hazy in the morning and then it burns off by the afternoon.

I took the girls out last night and P. made a fruits basket while I was out.


We celebrated my sister’s birthday on Saturday. She is 26. Can you believe that? She used to guest star on this joint as a high schooler. I remember when I was 26. I was in library school! I had pink hair then and chickens. So much has changed since the…uh.

We went on a harbor cruise and then to dinner on one of the piers. The theme of the day was photobombing.


Rilly girls. The hits just keep coming from this comedy duo.

Franny: I will wear the crab hat for five dollars.

Strudel: I will wear it for NOTHING.


In today’s matinee, the part of Sally Draper will be played by Franny, who was not only wearing this dress but then promptly ordered a “Roy Rogers.” That is her grandfather all over. She spent a week with him at the beginning of the summer at sailing camp, exploring her WASP roots.

Morgan strokes the hot lemon towels.

I took a quick shower before we left to meet Morgan and her fella and when I got home I washed my face and all this dirt just sheeted off it. Holy crap! Summer pollution ahoy. Soon the rains will come back and stick the pollutions to the ground again.

In Avian Appenings

Hello! Well, what an unexpected surprise this weekend.

Wants to live in Los Angel-leez

My friend emailed me this morning and told me that after repeated raccoon attacks like me, he was down to one orphan. You can’t keep an orphan–it’s cruel. So now we are home to his Black Francis. She is lovely. I am keeping her crated in the shade with food and water until tonight, when I will pop her in the coop. The idea is that the old girls will be too tired to fuss much, and then I will get up at half past the early bird’s ass tomorrow and let them out. Then Ms. Francis will know her home, and will be familiar to my girls. It’s been so long since I’ve had a rando bantam like this. I am delighted. I don’t roll the dice on them because they are impossible to sex as new chicks.

So the talk is that my friend and I will do the chick co-op thing next spring and go in on a order of sexed ones. I will have to rope some other people in as well to avoid ROOSTERS INCLUDED FOR WARMTH. (A picture of tiny Zsa-Zsa, FNIF.)

I have a post script on poor Veronica. It turns out she was hiding the fact that a raccoon had taken a chunk out of her side. The next day after the attack she came limping out of the coop and I took her to the e-vet before we went to Portland that weekend. Very sad! So now there are 6 with Death Ray being the O.G. chicken, and now she has a bantam buddy.

I will also say that when half your small flock gets traumatized, what happens is you often get rogue behavior like tree-sleeping and egg-hiding. We are lucky in Seattle to have cool days, and my coop is mostly shaded, so the weekend I came back from Portland (about one week after the attack, which was a week of chasing chickens out of bushes and stuffing them in their home) we did what I call a Home Day. The chooks spend all the damn boring day in their coop with food and water and any vents open, of course. You leave them that night and let them out the next morning. I find this often brings a certain cohesiveness back to a scared or divided flock (at least one that is not attack/feather-pecking each other). Now they hang out more. I also trimmed the flight feathers of one wing on each bird, which I should have done a while ago–no more cedar sleeping.

Gardening a lot this weekend…I am about to hull local strawberries for jam. YUM.

Gertie brought in the same flicker three times in 12 hours around the fourth. TSK, GERTIE!

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Uncaffeinated

P: have a confession to make
me: Ok?
P: i just watched three people in front of me either run out the coffee pot and walk off or try the coffee pots and realize they were empty and walk off
me: Are you in the kitchen?
P: so i just filled every single one of the mother fuckers up with decaf
me: HA HA

Posted in P

“I was in the pool! I WAS IN THE POOL!”

So 2011 was kind of…you know.

Deaths. Lawsuits. A lot of vomiting. So not too unusual, I guess.

Anyway, I am glad to see the back of it.

Sometimes you need a little ceremony to burn off the old.

(P. with my old boss, who is now his coworker.)

I was okay just watching. Happy New Year, and good luck.

Posted in P

And the cloud that took the form

This morning the daffodils are tilting forward gently, like they do right before their heads pop open. I like it–I have this vision of some fancy old timey lady with a lot of costume jewelry and a cigarette on a looong holder.

But before that! I dreamt I was having sex. Something was in my mouth and I could barely breathe…was it a paper napkin? (I suspect I was snoring.) No matter! I was having sex! Then I woke up. OH, SAD. But WAIT! I just dreamt I woke up, because then my alarm went off for real. I keep waking up at about 3:30, gripped with anxiety and all my dreams for the rest of the night are pretty much bad ones.

This weekend was busy busy busy moving sorting cleaning things. Goodwill runs! Changes are afoot, I will tell you in a few days. Nothing bad, I swear. I also moved the Todds into their own Todderdome. Now the hens are on their own with three spare Todds. They are getting VERY LARGE already and running around like whirling dervishes with their feathers growing in. I cannot believe how fast it happens.

Otherwise, it is quiet here. I am doing little crafty projects that were laying around like loose ends. I hung some pictures I had been neglecting since I moved in August. I was trying to avoid the cluttery feeling of my old too-small place, but I think there is room for a few more things around. I hung family pics on the wall in one of the staircases, not too straight. P. was helping. “Wabi-sabi,” he commented.

I am always wabi-sabi. I am putting up another mirror soon that I had ignored because the label was covering a crack in it, and I was insta-cross when I brought it home, but now I have reconsidered. It’s okay hang a cracked mirror, I guess. I don’t understand why these things change sometimes.

Also, it would not be a weekend without a stupid argument with my babydaddy that I actually LIKE. This is sport.

“I’m going to hang up that poster of clouds that I’ve had forever,” P. said, as I was doing some dishes.

This is where it immediately goes off the rails and some people (not me) are sorry they opened their mouth at all.

“Really, why?” I said.

“So I can see what the weather will be like.”

“SEE? WHAT THE WEATHER WILL BE LIKE?” Suddenly I was Gordon Ramsey on goofballs. “It’s GREY, you stick your head outside and it’s ALL GREY!”

“That’s not true at all,” he said. “There’s lots of different weather patterns here and you can tell if it’s going to rain and–”

“OF COURSE IT’S GOING TO RAIN, IT IS THE PNW! Save your poster, here is the only chart you need.”

I drew a chart for him on the fridge where the grocery list normally resides.

“Now in the Midwest there are actual cloud patterns besides grey–” I began.

“I don’t want to HEAR about the MIDWEST,” he said. “At least I know how to spell ‘G-R-A-Y.”

“GASP!” I gasped. He walked off. Where would either of us be without our weekly pointless bickering? The girls basically pass the salt over us when this happens now.

I also spent a little solo time with Franny, who needed a skirt for a field trip to the Symphony. I already mentioned this on the Twittergraph, but I was holding up not-pink things, because she does not dig the girlie pink stuff, and she was also insisting, “BLACK, ONLY BLACK CLOTHES.”

I teared up, for real. You can kind of tell we’ve been watching a LOT of Drag Race right now. Franny thinks of these types of shoes in a fabulous man context so we had to have a little breakdown about the clear stripper shoes. “Ladies wear these too, hmm,” she said.

I Got the Sickest Vendetta When It Comes to Taleggio

Last night I dreamt that SeaFed was on a game show that involved producing streams of bullshit at lightning speed. He did very well! He insisted on making me watch the tape after and I couldn’t help but notice how old he was looking, which is something I have no clue about since I cannot actually remember the last time I saw him. Has it been a year? Possibly.

Speaking of fathers, I dragged P. out with me, whom I had extremely important plans with to watch Gilmore Girls later, just like in ye olde days. My goal was to dial M for Meat and get some random animal parts to make this thing that takes like three days this weekend, no kidding. But I had to start FRIDAY NIGHT because stage one takes 12 hours. I had a total I WANT AN OOMPALOOMPA NOW DADDY moment in my sad head when it was only 7:30 and the meat saw was already shut down for the night, and I was told it would take a half-hour to reassemble. I WONDER.

The best part, though, was taking P. to the drug store. He was holding his Feral Dwarf’s hand (currently she is HIS since she penned on the window sill yesterday) and the clerk said, “Happy Father’s Day” to him to be nice, and he responded with nothing more than a stunned and confused look.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the clerk said quickly. “I assumed she was his…”

“Yes, she is,” I said. “He just doesn’t know there is a holiday this weekend.”

“Ah ha,” she said, confused.

He turned to me as we walked away. “Father’s Day,” he said, wonderingly.

“Yes, you had better call your father on Sunday,” I said.

“Huh. It’s nice to be remembered,” he said.

“Yeah, it is,” I sighed, thinking about how Mother’s Day went forgotten this year.

There is a little bit of vindictive ignoring of Father’s Day on my part, I admit, and about three parts “eh.” It is obviously not important to anyone I know. It’s probably time to just let it go and save my money for a BOOTY POP or something.