We’re gonna sip genmaicha like it’s your birthday

Franny said something interesting after returning from her father’s house last weekend. As I’ve mentioned, she often has a challenge over there, in that their house is set up differently than ours. The air and the products they use are full of corn. I would be a wreck if I was still in an environment like that and I remember being pretty consistently depressed when I was her age. She comes back irritable, tired, and with a couple of zits dotting her usually-clear face.

There was some kind of conflict last weekend that led to her peacing out to her room, probably exacerbated by how she was feeling. The shocking thing, to her, was that her father followed and asked her if she wanted to talk about it.

“I was so surprised!” she told me. “Now that I’m 15, he’s finally acting like a dad!”

Well, her definition of what a good dad is. It’s interesting to me what different people need to feel like someone cares about them. For her, it’s being listened to, and for someone to try to help her get to the bottom of what she’s feeling. When I was her age, I think I wanted to be encouraged in my interests, and not feel like an alien or be told things like “art’s a waste of time” or “girls don’t do that” or “you’ll grow out of it” (atheism, ha).

For a lot of reasons, I didn’t really have any meaningful talks with my own mother past the age of 12. I think there is a part of me that worries that I’m intruding on Franny when I can tell she’s having a bad day and I peck at her a little to talk to me and then she does. She always says she feels better but I always ask myself…should I just leave her to stew in her room until she gets over it? I don’t really feel like she tells me things she regrets and it’s usually manageable problems (that can be large to a teenager) like a tiff with her boyfriend, or someone at school said something mean, or a teacher lost their temper with herding cats.

So, weirdly, this revelation that her father’s decision to listen to her and ask if she was okay constituted “real parenting” made me feel like I’m on the right track with her. I know that sounds grossly self-congratulatory, but that’s what I took from it. Especially since I don’t really have any stake in their relationship or hope that he’s going to consistently meet her core needs. They have their own thing, but I guess he can still surprise her occasionally.

In Other News: Strudel is Eleven

Strudel asked for a modest list of presents and a bento-style dinner, like we used to have at teriyaki places. I made sushi, miso, teriyaki chicken, and tea.

If you’re familiar, that is a Dwight Shrute card of my own design. A couple of months ago I threw on a couple of episodes of first season Office while I was cooking and the girls got hooked. ESPECIALLY Strudel. I didn’t think it would appeal to a then-ten, now eleven-year-old, but she probably loves it the most. I’m enjoying the rewatch.

We present the traditional pineapple upside down cake, which has been a staple every year but the first year (that year was an apple strudel). It’s actually just as good gluten and dairy free.

I’ve got more pictures up at ye olde flickr.

Edith spent a long time walking around like this last night. It looked like a pacifier from straight on.

Also, the new birds are starting to lay! Green eggs again. Last year I bought a pullet, Gingersnap, that we were told was an easter egger, but turned out to definitely not be one! I think she might be some kind of maran. She’s got a black shiny tail and a red head, and lays dark brown eggs.

It’s been really rainy, so the eggs have been a bit muddy. Coop’s clean again as of this weekend though.

Banner Depressing; But I hate Fiddling with WordPress So Much

My banner! So innocious. I have to think some kind of update happened. YUK PEOPLE. The font is even different. I’m playing with Squarespace a lot, poorly (podcast), but when I think of porting I, Asshole over there it terrifies me. I cant believe I used to handwrite html (also poorly) for my Diaryland diary. I so just want a place I can wordbarf now. NO CODE PLZ. NO FUCKING WIDGETS.

I feel like everything’s on hold til after tomorrow anyway (interview). Pete said he would drive me if I am vomiting, since Strudel was supposedly vomiting yesterday.

I feel for kids, I really do. On one hand they can never choose their days off. On the other, they get like HALF THE YEAR OFF. That choice thing is a big one, though.

I’m out today to get a collared shirt that fits from Goodwill, I hope, the mall as a last resort. My lucky underwear (yes I get emotionally attached to my unders) is clean.

Today I am also practicing interview questions. I am trying to remind myself this is really the sanity test, which I am super good at. I am also trying to remind myself that a trade is a training program and they are looking for aptitude and not all the experience in the world…though I am sure they wouldn’t balk at taking some working electricians. I had a realization recently that if I could just interview for a living for a while, I would, which is pretty sick probably.

I just shit on Goethe’s parade a few minutes ago by making her drop a chickadee she was about to bring in and release, so she could murder it in a leisurely fashion in the house. She’s gone all Dexter since she lost a bunch of her teeth. They all look like this. The chickadee lay on the ground, twitching a little, but looked alert. I picked it up and held it in my hand. I tested out its little legs, and they hung limp. I thought it was just stunned since it was lifting its head a little.

Laura came by with her bock bock gang and stuck her beak into my business as always. She usually looks like this, with her tail flat. She saw the minuscule bird in my hand and made a fluffy display at it until she looked like a disgruntled hand turkey. I think turkeys are fascinating (problem number two after wanting to be interviewed for a living), are obviously smarter (except when faced with a harmless chickadee), and I am tempted to let my chook flock dwindle down and replace them with all turkeys!

Sometimes Laura gets on the fence, greatly concerning the neighbors (“Oh my god, is that…a TURKEY?”) and I push her down to back inside the pen. She saw me coming the other day and got down on her own! A chicken who is awake is pretty much on the verge of stomping on the chooky panic button all the time and it would be a coin toss what they would do if one saw you coming. Fly up? Scream? Go left? Go right? AHHH PANIC! Sometimes I have to grab a chicken that’s gotten out or hasn’t gone to bed properly and Laura puffs up at that, too. Very protective of her brooderbox chums.

So the chickadee kept breathing and looking around. I was feeling more confident it was about to take off when Goethe, foiled, trotted by. The chickadee saw her and exploded out of my hand. I am starting to suspect I am releasing the same bird over and over again.

I have been lazy about photographing the basement because changes are slow and incremental right now. It is hard for Pete to work 40 hours and fill in the last of the insulation and drywall, but it’s coming along. I was thinking about how I lived in a house flip/remodel in Crown Hill for three years and how I joked about it “ending my marriage” over ten years ago. I vowed to NEVER AGAIN live in the perma-remodel.

Well, guess what. It is a lot easier when you like the person you’re living in it with, and it’s slow but eating up a smaller portion (or none) of your living space. I think we were smart to have the basement bathroom done, since that was plumbing, tile, etc, and it was tight sharing one full-sized but smallish bathroom with the girls and all of their stuff and all of our stuff. Waiting for this bedroom isn’t nearly as bad, because we are still in what will be the smallest bedroom/office space, but at least we have a closing door.

So Pete is finishing the drywall and I am committed to doing the mudding, priming, and painting. Originally he said he would finish it all when I was sicker, but as I’ve gotten better I’ve been jumping in more. He’s less comfortable than I am with the finishing work, so it makes sense to tag out, since I will be home, I hope waiting for a call about my first union job in the next few weeks!

Flying the Coop

“You’re on Earth. There’s no cure for that.” –Samuel Beckett

I thiiiink I might be getting sick? Maybe? I haven’t been sick in over a year. I have these run-ins with sore throats or swollen glands (attractive) for maybe half a day and then I sleep it off. I woke up with a sore throat and a headache but it seems to be subsiding.

I was lying in bed kind of babying my headache when Strudel returned from school a few minutes after setting out.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Olive’s over on the next block.” One of our pullets had jailbroken and was wandering around after being let out of the coop this morning. I threw on pants and my coat and we went out together.

I looked up and down the street, figuring she’d be close to home, possibly trying to get back in. We acquired Roger Sterling because some little pullets had gotten lost in the neighborhood and she had probably been attracted to the sounds of my chickens, and was running up and down outside of the fence. The nice thing about chickens is even if they run off, they usually go “OH SHIT” and want back in immediately.

We looked around the back of the fence where the neighbor’s disused carport butts up against our property. The carport was brown, the fence was brown, there were brown pine needles everywhere. Olive is a classic easter egger and is brown, brown, brown. Strudel and her sharp eyes spotted Olive perched in the shadows of the carport, motionless.

We cornered her, and this is where I am relieved I bothered hand-raising chickens this summer. We were able to pick her up very easily, unlike more recent pullets that we’ve gotten half-grown from the feed store. I was too tired to hand raise chickens since I got the batch that had all the Todds in it in…2011? This was my first batch of day-old since we bought this house, for sure.

I really do feel nigh-indestructible now. I remember when the sore throat twinge was a little heads up that I was going down, and might be a snot factory for two weeks. This is better. I have to imagine my white blood cells are armed to the teeth at all times. (Because that is how science works.)

Sitting around, sort of, waiting to hear about a job. I am doing things like editing DNS entries to get the little podcast home set up, and I’ve taken the dogs on a long walk. I dunked their feet in the kitchen sink when I came home, which made Horace panic. I thought it would be simpler and use less water than the tub, but I forget that Horace hates any and all change, so he flicked dirty water everywhere.

Anyway, I am maybe feeling cheerier than I was on Thanksgiving. I keep reminding myself that I’m working towards being happier, not just what pays the most in the short run. Though I may be submitting myself back to a technical contract sometime this week if this job doesn’t pan out.

I’m the cool dad, that’s my thing.

Can I make a normal face? A: no, I think you have to have a normal face to make one. ANYWAY. I graduated. It wasn’t pretty. One of us didn’t make it and has to make up shop classes. D:

I’ve been super stressed this month–having nightmares, I stopped losing weight (plateaued) and, shockingly, didn’t have a period this month. I haven’t skipped periods since I was an irregular kid 20+ years ago. The program itself was fine, in fact it’s a great idea to prepare women for the trades, but the people who run it are absolute nightmares. Our primary teacher left at the end of our session to become a bureaucrat with the city. I was interested to talk to someone who knew a former teacher for the program quite well, and was able to comment on how it’s in the toilet right now, insofar as it’s being run. I have no fear of writing about this because I’m already on the shitlist with them and have already been on the receiving end of some minor retaliatory behavior. YAAAAY! Expect the worst from humanity and you won’t be disappointed, eh?

BUT, I made really excellent friends and contacts with my peers. The esprit de corps happened in spite of all the jackassery.

So now I am in a weird place. I have been invited to take the electricians’ aptitude test on the 5th, which is algebra and logic and reading and I think some personality test. I have already taken and passed test for the sheet metal union. I need more money and I am being recruited for holiday high-tech contracts again, which makes my stomach churn. I am also applying for work in sheet metal and machinist shops, but my resume says high tech. What a great place to be! Someone give me a job. URRRRGH

My math class this summer was very rudimentary compared to the electricians’ test, so I am now jumping back into my solo algebra studies. And just trying to keep busy.

Just kidding. My life is now peeing into cups.

Good timing to finish–I needed to get the chicks outside safely. Usually I let chicks fully feather in the house, but this batch is different. I think Laura the turkey poult might be extraordinarily messy with her water, or playing with it, because every time I turned around, it was empty, and the water was on the chips/box floor. Not good, and the box was starting to go funky, and the chips smelled worse than the chicks (the chicks are dusty, but aren’t too bad as long as you change their chips once a week).

Historically I’d been able to keep 3-4 chicks in a Uhaul wardrobe box until they were feathered out and ready to go outside, but I knew the box would disintegrate before then. I like having them in a basement or garage because they get lots of attention and handling, and get very used to people noises, but they had to go.

I decided to make something that I hadn’t before called a “chick playpen.”

This cage goes inside the coop, taking up part of the space so the chicks can come in and get warm. I cut a hole in the top with a hole saw and hung their brooder lamp inside it.

Here it is in situ.

The hens still have space to lay, perch at night, and can get used to the chicks existing.

I “meshed” off the back section of the coop’s attached run, which is roofed as well. The chicks will have an outdoor space that is completely covered and enclosed with hardware cloth on the outside so nothing can get them, and the hens can see them but not peck them.

At night (or anytime) they can go up into the coop in their playpen and be warm. Food and water is on the ground level, on pea gravel. When they get a bit bigger I can cut a hole in the temporary internal mesh so they can enter the main yard with the hens, but pop back into their area for their special grower food and in case they are being pecked. Eventually the mesh comes down and the playpen is removed.

Goethe is my shadow when I’m outside.


Et tu Useless?

I got up on the roof on Saturday, ostensibly to install gutter guards. We have a pretty serious pine needle/fir bud clog issue here, to the point where the gutters want to overflow if it does more than mist.

Got up, looked around, doot doot. Could not get near the edge of the roof. I’m okay at heights, scaffolding, but sloped roofs always made me freeze. This has not changed, apparently. In fact, OSHA videos may have made things worse. I did manage to talk P. into buying an extension ladder, so he could do all parts safely, including the driveway where there is a 2-storey drop.

“This project is going to double in cost if I buy this ladder,” he said.

“Your life…is worth a $250 ladder to me,” I replied. ~DRAMATIC ORGAN MUSIC~

He was like “oh ok” after that.

Instead I went off and got some new chicks, since my numbers have naturally dwindled again.

I was looking for pullets at Portage Bay Grange (provisioning everything for the urban hipster hobbyist, thank god I don’t have to drive out to the hinterlands for the privilege of buying unsexed chicks anymore), but all the breeds I was interested in were snapped up. Plus I’ve learned at this place the clerks will guess at pullet breeds and then you’ll bring something else home. Last time I got a pullet I was told “Easter Egger” but I think she’s a welsummer. Gingersnap is a fine bird, though, whatever. She does not lay green eggs however.

Franny was oohing over the beeps and I asked her if she was staying put here for the rest of the summer so she could help supervise when I am gone all day. When they’re new they need a light bulb for warmth and someone to make sure they stay out of trouble. Of course I had all the supplies except for chick waterers, which have been repurposed to feed the bees syrup. Also chick crumble, which I don’t keep around. They tried to sell me antibiotics and probiotics, which was new. I’ve never fussed with them so I passed. If this was my livelihood and I was raising hundreds, and not a hobby, I would probably go for it. In my experience chicks drop dead right away or you will probably get 3-4 years out of them.

The dogs are losing their minds about the fact that there is a small aquarium-sized bin in Franny’s room full of delicious bird-snacks. When they get a bit bigger in a couple of weeks I told her they have to move to the basement since they get so dusty as they feather out.

No Name Manson (waiting for a name from P.)

Audrey Horne chicken


Laura Palmer

Should be a busy week–heading to the Ironworkers today and then speed mentoring with tradeswomen tonight. This was announced at the last minute, but the consolation prize for staying late is that I get to watch everyone eat pizza. Ha ha. Then plasterers tomorrow, and brick masons on Wednesday. I will be tired by Thursday!

Before the cream sits out too long (you must whip it), Or, Letter From Butthole Acres

I’ve been listening to Devo while running. The current generation has Disney furdom to cause early sexual dysfunction, sorry, awakening, we had Devo and Videodrome. A friend got me onto the idea of a 5K in April and I think I am shooting for that now. I should be up to a 5K well before the day.

So yeah, running again. Something weird there too. I’ve never been able to run without cramping and stitches. Now, miraculously, I have nothing. I can’t run very far or fast yet, but cramps will no longer stop me. I always admired distance runners for being able to get past that, and it didn’t occur to me that some people don’t experience this, or rarely. Now I feel like I could run forever. I feel like I have more lung capacity than I used to as well.

Speaking of which…it’s been a year since I got really sick. There’s not much to say about that, except that I am doing the right things now to the best of my ability, and I feel about ten years younger. Except I think I didn’t really feel this great when I was 27. I have more hair. I’ve cut it into a shortish bob now that the shaved bits have grown out and it spends most of its time sticking up now, like a crazy person’s hair. I easily have twice as much hair coming in than I did for years. It was getting quite thin and flat. I also have this sprout of silver coming in at my part near my face. I am getting older and younger at the same time.

Franny and P. are totally on board with our continued dietary changes. At this point, it’s not really changes, it’s the new normal now. I may have mentioned this but P.’s lost about 10-15 pounds without much effort (other than not eating things that disagree with him) over the past year. Franny has also slimmed down. For the past few years she would come back from her father’s house with a bloated stomach that was noticeable on a growing kid with a slim frame. But she just looks less bloated overall. As we all do.

I’m struggling with Strudel. Or maybe I should say she’s struggling with herself. She keeps coming to me with mysterious lesions/rashes and other issues. For a while I wracked my brain to figure out where she was getting “poisoned” and then I’ve discovered it’s mostly self-inflicted. I’ve been finding corn syrup-based candy wrappers in her laundry and last night she was in her room eating a “Baby Bottle Pop” before dinner. It wasn’t acceptable to eat random candy before dinner before we realized we had dietary restrictions, so I’m not sure what crack she was smoking.

Fortunately, corn is not even close to an anaphylactic shock situation, but it does cause a lot of disruption. She gets sores/rashes, joint pain, anger and mood problems, and almost the worst thing is the sleeplessness it induces. She and I can both be up til 3 a.m., hearts pounding, if we have any, so I can’t imagine the kind of night she had last night after eating a whole container of candy. I know she’s getting less than eight hours of sleep right now–she seems out of it, has dark circles under her eyes, looks terrible. Her attitude has been kind of weird, and we were puzzling over that, too. We’re a very sarcastic, jokey house, but she’s been curt and smartaleky beyond that.

I don’t know what to do, besides talk to her about how I think she’s affecting her health. We have “safe” dessert and/or chips on the weekends. Last weekend I made a big pan of chi chi dango with baking chocolate added so it tasted like brownies. On Monday I made a special pan of cherry crumble bars since my sister and I have started Twin Peaks again (it is February, after all, and she wants to compete in the trivia contest at the fest this summer). I don’t think it’s a case of crunchy granola perfect eating all day every day oppression. I think I’m just going to have to wait for her to decide what’s important. Kids like consuming copious amounts of sugar, and there is a convenience store a couple of blocks from her school. I get it. In the meantime, I need to brace myself for a tired, cranky kid.

I have about 4 grillion pictures that I would like to post, and I will, I just decided to pagebarf today since it’s been a while. Time’s been flying. I’m experiencing a lot of really nice domestic moments. That sounds so fucking stupid. But I am mostly enjoying myself now all of the time. P. sometimes sees me for the first time on any given day in the afternoon and says, “You look happy,” and I am, for no reason really.

I made an eight-course meal for Valentine’s Day for my family. (I have pictures of that as well.) It came off very well, but I was knackered. I am embarrassed to say I cooked for eight hours, because how is that fun, really? But it was. I thought it was going to take half the time it did. I made small portions but even so we were like the sad dog who steals a pie and then lays around howling afterwards. I was literally on the floor rolling around. I don’t overeat like I used to, so that was a weird night.

The next day I did what I think of as “pre-gardening”–cleaning up some of my pots and getting things ready for spring flowers. I brought some mint home because this winter has been so freaking mild. P. was more athletic and planted a persimmon and dwarf crab apple with Strudel’s help. We are slowly chipping away at the trees we don’t really like. There’s an ornamental cherry in the front bed next to the sidewalk that was allowed to grow out of control. Eventually we will cut it down as the crab apple gets bigger. I had P. take out a holly tree out front that was doing not much except providing sharp things for us to step on in the summer as we weed the roses or pick blueberries and raspberries. I like a lot of the established flowering ornamentals, like rhodies, that this house came with, but a lot of trees and bushes, I say if it doesn’t make any fruit, PULL IT.

So the minifarm is coming along. I am down to seven chickens, now, sadly. I was in the kitchen cooking on Monday afternoon and I went out to get some sage leaves and saw that Goethe was staring at something in the corner of the yard. She turned her head as I approached and her eyes were like saucers. I looked beyond her and saw a pile of feathers kind of exploded, and then Death Ray laying in the middle. I didn’t think she’d come to a bad end wandering the yard alone, because it is a pretty standard-sized lot in a residential part of the city, and she always squeezed through the fence by dusk to put herself away with the other chooks who cannot fit through the fence.

The only thing I can think of that happened is that a raccoon came out in broad daylight and attacked her, but got spooked before taking her off. She was a Silkie, and very tiny. She had a bit of blood at the back of her neck, which I assume was broken. It was hard to tell because she had stiffened so her neck didn’t flop. The dogs followed me out after I spent a couple of minutes looking up into the firs and bushes to see if I could spot a horrible little face, and I realized they hadn’t been out or involved at all. They were smelling, smelling, smelling the ground all around where Death Ray was. Horace chased the chickens when he was small, but I trained him not to, and Edith pretty much followed suit. The chickens are not afraid of the dogs. The chickens pretty much ignore them, as they do my cats.

I turned my head to look in the pen where the remaining chickens are and it was quiet and there was not a chicken in sight. Shit! Would there be more deaths? Would they be chased off somewhere over the fence into the neighborhood? It was so weird, because I had heard absolutely nothing and I was in the kitchen right off the patio. I found most of the chickens cowering in the corner of their pen and Molokai was hiding in the coop. So something weird certainly went down.

Death Ray lived through so much bullshit and this was her third house. She was part of my first batch, the first summer I got chickens again after my divorce, when we lived in the duplex by the Zoo (2008). I never dreamed she would have made it this long. On one hand I am glad that she enjoyed her “retirement” out on the lawn where the younger, stronger chickens could not peck at her, but I know it caused her demise. If they were all in a clump I don’t think a raccoon would have messed with her.

I’m finally going to start my beehive this weekend–I decided on a set of plans. P. says he will help me build it, which is a relief, but he doesn’t want to take point on it as a project. I totally understand that feeling–he’s still got the basement coming along slowly but steadily for someone who works full time. It’s a lot easier now that I am well 99% of the time and he doesn’t have to drop everything and take over making dinner or run an errand that I was supposed to do.

I’m excited about this because I’ve wanted a hive for a long time and we haven’t worked on a little project like this since we built the coop together. When it’s done, I’m going to order a batch of bees and they should be here in April. I am read up on Seattle law about where hives can be sited and whatnot so I don’t think the neighbors can formally complain. We are not putting it close to anyone, because I don’t want to provoke anyone, anyway. My street was closed recently for construction and I parked in front of the neighbor’s house behind me, and she came out and yelled at me for parking on the street in front of her house (parking is not tight in this neighborhood, nor does she have a lot of visitors). I was holding Nordstrom bags and wearing interview clothes, not flipping a switchblade or something. I told her I was her neighbor and that both streets next to my house were closed and her response was to slam the door. I shrugged and moved the car–it’s not worth it. So it’s good to know I am surrounded by old cranks!

My last bit of news is that I cannot stand being miserable doing what I am doing anymore, nor can I see spending the next ten years complaining about it (and as I bragged recently my student loans are paid off after ten years), so I am in progress with making a career change. It should happen pretty quickly, in the next 2-3 months, but I don’t want to say what I am up to til then. Nothing earthshattering! I just need to do something new. And now I can, because my brain and body is working…I don’t need to be trapped behind a desk for all time. Hooray!

“Cut his hair and watch it grow”

“But Sidley Park is already a picture, and a most amiable picture too. The slopes are green and gentle. The trees are companionably grouped at intervals that show them to advantage. The rill is a serpentine ribbon unwound from the lake peaceably contained by meadows on which the right amount of sheep are tastefully arranged – in short, it is nature as God intended, and I can say with the painter, ‘Et in Arcadia ego ‘Here I am in Arcadia,’ Thomasina.”

–Tom Stoppard, Arcadia

Like 99 percent of the Northern hemisphere, as I mentioned I had a couple of colds during November and December. My lingering cough stopped sometimes after New Year’s, and loosey goose that I am right now, I realized I could take some of the pot if I wanted to. Ever since it was legalized here I’ve been mentally bemoaning my lack of time and energy for it. Not a huge thing, but I was like, wow, I am now such a boring adult I am too busy and tired to do this thing that was once (briefly) a pretty major part of my life.

I was making pot brownies for a hot minute in the spring just to get to sleep, and would sleep through most of the experience. I would take a little chunk before bed and it seemed to help put me to sleep and keep me that way. If I did wake up to pee at 2 a.m. I would realize I was high as a kite, stumble to the bathroom, and then put myself back to bed quickly. I woke up refreshed and not groggy or spacey. I abandoned this as soon as I found out that making up for missing vitamins and minerals in my diet would do the same thing and even better.

Recently I decided it might be fun to spend part of the afternoon stoned. I had maybe two hits and went back indoors, and I felt it coming on. Well. I had kind of a terrible afternoon. I was high for a while and felt okay. I don’t smoke myself to puddle-on-the-floor incapacitation levels anymore–again with the lack of time and energy and really, interest.

When I was a kid all that was available was weak ditchweed. I’m sure they were already doing interesting things with cross-breeding for potency in California, but not with the scrag I was getting in the Midwest. You could maybe bet that you’d be kind of giggly for about a half hour, and then would be kind of tired and would need a bottle of mango Snapple, STAT. It’s a commitment now. As a friend of mine once said, “new” pot is like a couple of steps away from acid. So I stop with a small hit or two.

I had a realization the other day, though, and I felt kind of silly about it. Once the high had kind of died down, what I was left with was mental fuzziness. The “brain fog” that I had been experiencing from food on a regular basis for the past five years or so. I never minded it before, because I was always fuzzy, and didn’t notice additional fuzz. But since I am clear most of the time now, this was intrusive and unwanted. I felt like the stereotype of the dumb cartoon giant or troll. Mad, but confused, and not sure where the arrows are coming from. I kind of stomped around my house for a while, crushing villagers in my mind, and then had a lie down.

So I think I am done with jazz cigarettes, at least for now. Maybe at some point the memories of the brain fog will fade, and I will want to be altered like that, but for now I am enjoying the clarity I have most of the time. Now that I feel this chapter closing, I am inspired to write another of my pointless series on my history with pot and some things that happened when I was stoned or trying to get there.


I had my camera on some weird setting that made everything a little blurry in the dim lights of my living room last night…

Twelve down, eight more to go

Kennel up!

About a week ago, Death Ray the silkie discovered that she could squeeze herself through the gap in the chicken fence. The other girls are too fatty von fat fat hens to fit, which was the point of the design. Death Ray is now about 6 years old and has survived many chicken incidents and a small handful of drive by raccoonings.

She has greatly outlived all of her peers that I purchased with her and at this point she doesn’t really fit into the pecking order at all. She completely stays away from the other hens, which started about three years ago. I have wondered if she would develop more homies if I got some more silkie chicks, but I am currently at the legal limit of hens. Also, every winter now we assume it’s her last…but nope. She lives through everything somehow. She sleeps in the egg laying box presumably since she is so old and creaky, and even survived when Strudel left the egg-retrieving flap open a couple of years ago. That really should not have happened since the flap opens into her bed directly.

Anyway, I figure she has earned her retirement and a respite away from the other hens, who often peck her if they remember she exists. Poor little pariah. I like to look up and see her noodling around on the lawn all day though.

Dial “M” for Moonpants

So I was stuckish in downtown traffic last night because I am attending the noir series the museum throws every year. This year the focus is on DAMES, EVIL DAMES. Barbara Stanwyck ahoy! Did you know she was born a Ruby? And her stage name was BARBARA? I know, I know.

My phone rang and it was not a DAME, it was Moonpants, so I threw it on speaker. As you may recall Moonpants is my former neighbor who I am feeling quite fond of now that he doesn’t want me to entertain his child via mine and borrow “Like some butter and some eggs because Pantlet woke up craving pancakes man.” He is kind of like The Dude and Tim Robbins’s character in High Fidelity mated.

“Hi SJ, it’s Moonpants.”

“Hey!” He is throwing a party for his 50th birthday on Saturday, so I figured it was about that. I was waiting to be asked to bring, like, all the food or something. “Sooo the neighbors are wondering about your chicken because they keep seeing her running around in the alley…” I had given Moonpants the heads up that we had tried to catch Mary Jane several times before and after we moved but that she had gone feral after Raccoon Slaughter XVII: The Nommining at the beginning of this summer. I suspect she is mooching off the concerned neighbors now, who have a coop too.

“If they can catch her, they can totally keep her,” I said. “You know we tried to catch her several times.”

“Yeah, it sort of is like, maybe she made a choice not to be caught,” Moonpants said. I wasn’t really following his logic that any chicken really makes a choice about anything, but his worldview was totally in my favor this time so I went with it. At least this wasn’t the 45-minute discussion we had once about “Is bindweed really like a weed man, and who determines what a weed actually is?” as I plucked bindweed off our shared fence so it would not block the sunlight and strangle my blueberries.

“Sure. She’s lived in the tree for a few months now and has been safe. I had the thought that if I took her to a new house and she roosted in trees she did not know it might be more dangerous for her.” Seriously, I really had thought about this. She was doing pretty well where she was. If I did manage to catch her and take her with me, she would probably get eaten the first night. Additionally, a chicken that comes down every morning and eats your chicken chow and hides her eggs is really not much better than the crows who eat the chickens’ table scraps before they can. She would do okay in a closed run, but I never have one of those.

“Okay, well, I’ll tell them they can have her if they can catch her.” He was quiet for a moment. “Hmm…I kind of like the idea of having a wild alley chicken.”

“It’s more common than you think,” I said. I have seen runaways in almost every neighborhood.

“See you Saturday!” he said and rang off.

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!