A kiss is not a contract

March 30th, 2015

“What’s the difference between venerating women for being fuckable and putting them on a purity pedestal? In both cases, women’s worth is contingent upon their ability to please men and to shape their sexual identities around what men want.”

–Jessica Valenti

Franny called me early on Saturday and left a message. She’d been at her dad’s house less than 24 hours, which is always a…sign. Could be okay, could be not so good. I listened to it.

“Mom, something annoying and lame happened. Can you call me back?”

I finally got ahold of her on Saturday night. She went outside her grandfather’s house, where she was having an overnight visit, to talk on the phone without being listened to.

“Guess what happened when I got into my dad’s car yesterday? He immediately asked me about my boyfriend!”

“Uh oh,” I said. Her boyfriend was something she was super not ready to share with her father or his family, and so she had decided not to.

“Yes, and he said he found out because of YOUR BLOG.”

“Oh, shitballs,” I said. I understand all too well that what I write is public, but I didn’t think he had any interest. It got worse.

“THEN he decided to have a sex talk with me, and it was so awkward I wanted to die! He said, ‘When I was your age I started having sex and all high school boys are trying to do is get into your pants.’ I was like ‘UGH TMI DAD’ but I was just like, ‘Ok.”

“…That’s pretty terrible. You know he said that because that was his perspective, right? We know not all boys are like that.”

She and I talked about it more later, after I’d related the cringe-inducing story to P. He and I talked about how crappers it was to take this tack–the idea that Franny doesn’t really have any agency herself, doesn’t have any sexuality herself, and sex is something that will be winkled from her because blah blah girls have to protect their own virtuecakes whatever. Also this issue of promulgating the notion that all boys are predatory. UGH. He’s probably just freaked out because his high school girlfriend had an abortion (an acceptable solution, but one that he felt was Morally Wrong).

I had a hinky feeling about this whole thing and I left my ringer on for the rest of the weekend. There she was again, Sunday night around eight.

“Mom, I don’t know what to do. Dad’s been barfing all day and he’s just disappeared into bed and I don’t know how I’m going to get to school tomorrow and I HAVE TO BE THERE.”

“Okay, take a breath, let’s figure this out,” I said. We arranged it so we could go down to the ferry docks and pick her up (normally her dad would take her to school on Monday and she would come home from there).

Her stepmother took her down to the docks on their side and dropped her off. Franny said on the way down her stepmother heaped praise on SeaFed for having a sex talk with her, and wasn’t he a cool dad? And not every dad could talk to their daughters about sex.

“The message is possibly more important than the act of talking itself,” I ventured.

“Oh, Mom, there’s more, he also told me that you should get me on birth control.”

“Okay, I’ll get right on that.”

She told me what happened with her dad over the past couple of days, about how there was a birthday pizza party for one of the children and how he was drinking throughout the day. I get it, he had a couple of days off and was kicking it with his dad. It’s often kind of fun party times with SeaFed’s dad, but not in a creepy “WOO LET’S DO SHOTS” way. Just fun.

“So your dad had beer and pizza all weekend?”

“Yes, he was drinking a lot. When we were on our way back from Grandpa’s and waiting for the ferry he threw up off the dock.” She told me this nightmarish tale of how the usual island hop takes about an hour and a half, but it took four hours yesterday, because her stepmother kept stopping at stores and everyone had to pee and there was a child screaming because they ran out of movies to show in the minivan and then a child screamed for french fries and so THEY PULLED OVER AND GOT THEM.

“Hold up,” I said. “A child screamed for french fries and then was taken through the drive through and given french fries?” I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been hearing these stories for years now.

“Yes.”

“Further delaying the trip home even?”

“Yep.”

“I would walk into the ocean with my mouth open until I drowned,” I said.

“…OOOOOOR you can just say, ‘No’ to that sort of thing as a parent,” said P., sensibly, as always.

A person could look up the word “hyperbole” in the dictionary and there would be a picture of P. with a strike through it and the caption would say “NOT P.” SIGH.

On top of all this drama, here’s SeaFed thinking he has food poisoning. He’s had problems since he was a small child, or so he told me several times when we were married. Daily stomachaches and frequent headaches. Franny said in recent years he’s been complaining of vertigo. We were discussing his condition in the midst of all of this.

“He has these body and joint aches and feels terrible and I say ‘DAD, you should get off the wheat!’ He says he’s in good health!”

“Yeah, his mother had a ‘bad stomach” too,” I said.

It just made me think…there is a weird style of “AHA!” parenting I have observed (and was practiced on me at times) involving “busting” and humiliating your teenager. It really, really seems to make them not want to talk to you and more likely to keep secrets next time.

I guess this is how SeaFed was treated in some cases, though. I think of his stories about his phase of breaking into cars and stealing stereos, hood ornaments, etc. His sister found his stolen goods and instead of speaking to him about it, pulled all of the items out from under the bed and displayed them on his bed, hoping their parents would find them and draw the obvious conclusion. (Not saying that Franny is doing anything bad here–her boyfriend is delightful, really.)

So it came out that his mother-in-law has been reading my blog [HELLO THERE] and was the one who blabbed all this to Franny’s stepmother and father. After how the weekend went, I can’t imagine why Franny was so reticent to share this news.

On the way to the ferry Sunday night, she said that her stepmother was kind of nice. Points deducted from Hufflepuff for praising SeaFed for that “sex talk” but then she was kind of apologetic about her embarrassment and conceded: “Well, Gabba’s nosy sometimes.”

I told Franny I could stop blogging about her, and assured her I am keeping it positive and/or neutral now that her peers are online. (There’s really nothing “bad” to write, though. She is really not a troubled kid.) I apologized profusely for the embarrassment I had caused her at the hands of her father.

She said it is okay if I keep writing about her, but I realized there’s lots of other things I could write about. I could write about how many times Franny has stumbled upon her stepmother’s “secret” cigarette stash. I could write about how Franny has stumbled upon her father’s and stepmother’s weed stash several times in the course of looking for ordinary household items. I could write about what Franny found in her father’s drawer this weekend when he asked her to fetch a handkerchief (“…And I knew IMMEDIATELY it was his dick piercing.” “Yes, honey, this is why your father sits to pee.”). I could write about the strife and tension caused in the household by having a mother-in-law who barges in, hoovers down all the milk, and then splits. I could write about how much SeaFed hates his mother-in-law’s dogs and how Franny has to hear all about that.

And no, I don’t have the good sense god gave a goose and I am a terrible person. Have a nice day.

Feckless, un film de Asshole Luc Goddam

March 26th, 2015

Yesterday I was at home, not really sick but tired. I had been up for a couple of hours in the middle of the night when my head suddenly decided to fill with snot and I had a cool coughing jag. I woke up when my alarm went off at 5:30, feeling destroyed. WHATEVER, mucus membranes.

“Fuck this,” I said to myself, as I often do, and called off around 6, and went back to bed.

I felt bad because P. was home, working, and I knew he had wanted the house to himself. I reasoned I would stay out of the way and be quiet. I found myself working on one of Strudel’s birthday puzzles while he took mandatory annual sexual harassment training.

“Jean-Luc bicycles to work daily and changes out of his athletic clothing and into his professional work attire in his office after arriving,” he read aloud. “Marie and Patrice often comment to each other about how fit Jean-Luc is and how nice his body looks. I can choose between ‘STOP, use caution, or appropriate.” I remained silent and continued fishing through 50 identical-looking roof tile pieces.

P. hmmed for a moment. “Well, they’re French, so this is appropriate behavior,” he concluded.

“Is there a write-in portion?” I asked.

“I wish.”

Later I yelled at him for winking at me in the kitchen. “USE CAUTION,” I said. He jumped a little, having completely forgotten about his earlier training.

IN OTHER NEWS

I ordered BEES online today, on purpose. IT IS MAKING ME HAPPY. Have I built hives yet? Don’t be ridiculous. But now I have the plans printed out (finally) and about a month’s lead time. And then I go pick a box of bees up at an airfield next month. WOO!

In conclusion, hooray it is Thursday.

The Devil’s Bargain

March 17th, 2015

“How would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is you wouldn’t.”

–JD Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Here I am behind a desk again. This is a strange one. No one really seems to know what the temp I’m replacing did, or who supplied her with work, or what I should be doing on a daily basis. I ask questions and my emails go unanswered. There are whole days where I don’t really speak to anyone. I am told I will be copywriting “soon” so that should be fun to exercise those muscles again.

I’d probably be panicking if I was trying to seriously get my foot in the door in marketing as an FTE, but. Eh.

So I have a love-hate relationship with situations like this. On one hand, I am making a paycheck again. On the other hand, it is taking me away from my precious math studies. MATH DELICIOUS MATH. I feel like I am not making progress towards my goals like I was, but it’s nice to have less financial pressure. I’m just going to ride this for now.

I know I have 3.5 hours completely alone this morning and no tasks, so it’s going to be a review of engineering and scientific notation. I cannot make this stuff up, folks. This is how exciting my life is.

We did St. Pat’s early because my sister comes on Mondays for dinner. I don’t know what possessed me to buy a lamb shoulder–so bony! But the meat was really nice. I did it pretty easy-style, no bells or whistles. We came home and went for a short jog–me, P., Strudel, the spaniels. I get a little kick out of thinking how ridiculous that little train must look galooping around the neighborhood, but I’m excited to run a 5K with Strudel in April.

When I got home I knocked together an “American” soda bread. Of course I had to add caraway, and I did sultanas and currants, which I think is more like the one in our ancient Joy of Cooking. I threw some fingerling potatoes, chunked carrots and onions, and wedges of cabbage in a roasting pan, and everything went in the oven. I had set the lamb on a delay so when I came home it had already been roasting slow and low. P. made a chocolate cake and frosted it with mint icing, and boom, St. Pat’s for people who are utterly mutts but the closest thing they have to a heritage is being told they come from Southern Irish trailer trash.

We did have some good news last night–the school district finally sent a letter saying Strudel was accepted to both tiers of advanced learning. The highest tier would require us switching schools, which we are not keen to have her do, so next year she will be in the rigorous program in her home school for fifth grade.

This is a long time coming–she’s been testing almost every year since kindergarten, and she had often fallen just one point short percentile-wise. We didn’t have her test last year because she was falling behind. Her terrible third grade teacher gave them ten minutes of math a day when she felt like it, and usually didn’t bother photocopying any homework for them. Strudel was put into a rigorous supplemental class this year and has caught up. I think she’s also doing so well in large part because of her diet. She has focus, energy, and is calm. (Like her mother, who can also math now.) I remember being her age and how hard it was to focus and take a test, even if I knew the material.

When we opened the letter I think we all expected disappointment again, secretly, but she SMASHED it. She was in the top percentiles and we did a happy screamy dance in the dining room. The only downside, and it’s a small price, is that she will have to retest every year to stay in the program. But she’s used to the testing and I hope she finds the challenge to be worthwhile.

Morgan was rather fried last night since she’s doing the morning shift of the pledge drive again at KEXP. She talks on the air for four hours and goes to her other job, and by the time I get to her she is pretty tired. I offered to let her run away after dinner and save more Twin Peaksin’ for next week, but we managed to fit in one episode anyway, before she had to run home and sleep.

Me being kind of fried and Morgan being VERY fried worked out, though, because Franny had a lot to say last night. She had another strange weekend at her father’s house. I feel funny about her weekend stories because it seems like she’s a terror over there, in part from how angry she feels about the situation. I was telling P. this weekend that I kind of feel for her stepmother but my loyalty is with Franny, of course.

“I feel like, ‘How can you not like and pet my flatulent, venomous snake?” I said to him, by way of explaining my attitude about it.

She was a little manic when she came back. She got into the bookshelves over there due to boredom and is cracking into Carl Sagan and John McPhee. Her father was always Mr. Popular Science guy, when I first met him, but after a few years the books weren’t read, they were just displayed. But she was full of ideas. It was very cute.

“I had no filter this weekend,” she declared. “My sister asked me if I like our room and I said ‘NO’ because I just feel like a guest and there’s always crap piled on my bed. And the kids just scream at the table through every meal.”

“You are sowing dissent,” I warned her, which of course fell on deaf ears.

“I was mean to my stepmother too. She buys all these dumb face creams and I walked in and she was piling some on, and I told her, ‘You know that stuff doesn’t work, right? You just get wrinkles anyway. She took a deep breath and she said, ‘Go. Away.”

OUCH. I am pretty sure that karmically, Franny just earned herself a face that will look like one of those dried apple dolls by the time she’s 32.

“AND SATURDAY,” she went on, “was kind of worse because they had dinner guests and right before they came my dad insisted on getting out a board game and setting it up so it would LOOK like we were doing something. I called him out on it. I said, ‘Dad, we never play board games’ and he said ‘So?” and I said, ‘It looks like you’re just doing this because company’s coming over and he said, ‘Ha ha ha’ like I said something funny!”

It got a little dark, then. She told us her stepmother asked her to fetch some pills out of her nightstand.

“There are prescription pill bottles EVERYWHERE–in the kitchen, the bedroom,” she told us. “Pills for anxiety, pills for depression, pain pills…she takes so many pills.” Her mother just had back surgery, and I think this is after knee and hip surgery a few years ago, and is laid up right now. Franny said there was some yelling from her stepmother about not being able to take care of one more person. And I knew from experience that SeaFed was numbered among those she is taking care of.

Strudel turned TEN last week and I was already feeling so grateful to have my youngest in the double digits. So grateful to have dug myself out of the health pit I had fallen into. And then to hear about how things are going at his house…I’m sure they will all muddle through, or they won’t, that’s life. But last night I had that “someone has walked over my grave” feeling, but not my grave. The grave I would have had, had I zigged and not zagged.

Hello Medlar

March 9th, 2015

Funny day–I’m supposed to be at work right now, but I’m not in the system yet. The woman at badging said she saw all my other previous logins, but of course she could not reactivate those. This is my fifth go-round at this company, which I kind of cannot believe. I was sent home without being able to bill for any time. It took a while for my contact to collect me from the lobby where I waited, badgeless, and I had a moment where I wondered if there had been some big misunderstanding and I thought I had a job, but I actually didn’t?


Horace abed Saturday

I know this is a crazy thing to think, but I had those kind of nightmares all night where I was fighting with friends for no apparent reason, embarrassing myself with foot-in-mouth disease, and was many places I shouldn’t have been. P. had nightmares all night too–said he was stressed out by the time change.

I kind of hate waiting in the lobbies of these buildings because pretty much the only people who use them are people waiting to be interviewed, so there’s this thick tension-funk in the air and everyone is sitting up too straight. Then someone comes into the lobby, scanning the hopeful faces and calling out a name. Everyone slumps a little when it is not them. You will not be adopted today, eager puppy. The person who is plucked out of the riff raff immediately goes into showtime mode; they are on and will be for the next 4-5 hours in their bid to become an FTE. “I’M SUPER, HOW ARE YOU DOING TODAY? TRAFFIC WAS FINE!!!” I do like criticizing sartorial choices and seeing who is rude to the front desk admins, though.


Normal dog for comparison

So I woke up after sleeping fitfully, discovered my period had started, and then was sent home. I have a slow cooker on the counter making ropa vieja right now, which is kind of awesome. I didn’t want to cancel Monday night dinner with my sister even though it’s my first day back, so I decided to make it easy.

Did I build a beehive this weekend? No I did not. I forgot to have the plans printed out. Ha! I ended up walking about 3 hours around and near Greenlake, and did some gardening. I took the dogs to the local nursery and bought some decorative plant things. I am the houseplant/flower person around here, and P. usually does more practical things like mows and grows food. My department is aesthetics.

I have killed some more house plants (sigh) and wanted to replace them. My next victim is club moss, which is supposed to be fairly hearty. I predict it will have a nice summer and then commit suicide in February or so. Who could blame it? This house can feel dark. P. reassures me that a thing on his list after the bedroom creation/remodel is those little tube skylights.

It was a nice mound when I bought it, but I split it up after being instructed to by the nice lady in the houseplant section. She said some stress to the roots will make it denser and mound better and faster than waiting for it to spread and fill the pot on its own.

It looks a little better from farther away, but I never mind some wabi-sabi. I also got something I had researched called a ZZ plant, which apparently tolerates low light well, and then I couldn’t bring myself to sentence it to my bathroom after the lady said it would “get leggy.” It’s so nice looking as it is. I love soaking down there, but I don’t think I would want to live in that room with the lights off. I got a pothos that I will have no such compunctions about. They are the pigeons of the houseplants world.

I got a flat of alyssum relatives/lookalikes from the clearance rack. I always like to plant sweet little flowers like this beneath roses. I bought one of those flower mixes that you sprinkle everywhere. I planted some giant sunflowers as well. I bought a couple of odd pansies and a ranunculus to spruce up my pots that were all scented geraniums last year. I am still way into scented geraniums but I need some variety this time out. I cut back the roses in the front that were a disaster when we bought the place. We are chipping away at the benign neglect that has been inflicted on this yard. It was nice to wander around and see the changes. The quince is leafing out and the leaves are so velvety, just like the fruit. Maybe this will be the year we get a couple of blooms. We walked around and looked at everything–the cherries, hazelnuts, and kiwis are budding, and someday we will be able to gorge ourselves out of the yard.

I had the yard all to myself yesterday and was puttering to my heart’s content, which is rare, because usually P. is out doing something on a nice weekend. He has been tiring himself out framing on the evenings and weekends, so he decided to give himself the day off yesterday now that the framing is done.

He’s been going slooooowly but it’s not laziness at all. When we got back from HI last year, the bathroom was being wrapped up for another month, and then I was ill all summer. He’s really only been hitting it hard recently, now that I am predictable and reliable again.

It was exciting to see the walk-in closet framed out. When the drywall’s up, I’m going to start looking for a chevron rug and a small Venus de Milo statue. I may have mentioned that I am turning my closet into The Black Lodge.

I’d like to get paid today and rip off the first day Bandaid, but I also feel like I’ve been given some kind of temporary reprieve. Maybe this makes up for the time change on Sunday? As soon as I got to work I saw an email that said my medlar tree was being delivered today, from a nursery that is located on a Butts Road (enjoyable) so I will be here to greet the tree, I suppose.

“…And a pot of coffee just like I like my women.”

March 4th, 2015

Oh man. It is so gorgeous here I cannot even tell you. Weather in the 50s. Sunny errr day. It’s really hard to sit down and write ANYTHING, let alone DEAR MF DIARY stuffs. But if I don’t capture this, it will be gone. I feel a little more (self) pressure because apparently the post-holiday tech contract lull has ended and I am back behind a desk on Monday for a very short three week stint. I am replacing a replacement person basically. I like the short term stuff. My headhunter is urging me to turn my new resume back around to her immediately as soon as I know what my job duties are because stuff is cooking. This may slow down my career change, but will not kill it. I still have nights and weekends to work on my stuff. I’m in a tech math class and I have to be done by July, which I will be.

Let us rewind 3 weeks or so backwards to Valentine’s Day. I was interested in going out and doing an early prix fixe thing with the girls and all, but a place I thought was okay for that (dedicated gluten-free menu, extensive discussion with the server) made me ill recently, so I kind of gave up on the notion of returning anytime soon.

Naturally I decided to make an eight-course meal at home.

I wrote the menu on our chalk board both to pretend I was a little pop up bistro, but also because I knew my family would be asking me about the menu ALL. DAY. LONG. Especially La Dwarf, who is going through another accelerated phase of “mouth works faster than brain.” It is my very informal observation that kids get really rough sometimes after their half year and tend to improve after their birthdays (she is turning ten this month, WHEW).

It was fun, but tiring. I always say after my Victorian year, nothing seems too challenging at this point. I estimated it would take me about 4 hours to prepare and assemble everything, but that was dumb. In the past I would have purchased things like creme fraiche–but now I make things like that. I cooked for about eight hours. I’ve been exercising so much that I wasn’t that tired or sore really. I am sad I am going back to a desk. The company where I am working seems to have a trick of deferring contractor requests for standing desks until your contract expires. They don’t actually say no, they just delay it. This is a short one, though.

ANYWAY, food. I will try to be brief. First course was an amuse bouche.

“Caviar”, smoked salmon, potato cakes, dill, lemon zest, and vegan sour cream.

Franny was late due to shenanigans involving not catching the bus on time. She was out with her boyfriend. I told her SIX SHARP! No soup for you! Actually I think she arrived during the soup.

I made little mashed potato cakes and then stamped them with my heart cutter set. It’s hard to see them on the spoons above but they are nestled as a base under the seafood.

This is as smooth as I could get my “sour cream.”

Vegan subs are weird. You know you’re not eating dairy, but it’s…close enough? Kind of acts as a place holder. I couldn’t see doing an amuse like this without dairylike product.

Course two was steak tartare with homemade potato chips.

This was probably the most popular course. I am accustomed to eating it with toast, but I actually preferred this. Weirdly, doing it this way reminded me of getting burgers and fries, in a really good way. Yes, the meat is molded into a heart shape. I used a nice half-pound tenderloin.

Course three was a pink cauliflower soup.

I am just getting into cauliflower. I never liked it when I was a kid, I think because it came out of a bag in frozen florets and was boiled into moosh. Now I am all about roasting it, which, duh.

This was a vegan recipe I will not link, because frankly it was not that flavorful. I will use the excuse that I am still a little new at this veggie to make up for my poor choice of recipe. I had homemade chicken/random animal bits that made it into my freezer broth in the fridge already so I used that instead of veg broth, of course.

This may be a funny place to say this, in the middle of describing a very frivolous and indulgent meal, but since I’ve been out of work I’ve made using up every leftover I can into an avocation. I tease P. about being “Depression Era Dan” with his string- and twist tie-hoarding ways but I was really going for it. Going for it like, giving him shit about throwing out an orphaned tablespoon of lamb or something. So when I realized I had leftover whole roasted beets in the fridge, I knew they would be great for this meal.

I sent one of my cutters right down the middle of each beet and linked some of the courses together with beet heart coins. I also used one to dye the soup. The soup called for purple cauliflower, but it was expensive and looked pretty sad/brown in the store when I was shopping for everything. Far better to buy a nice-looking white one.

Each serving got dill arrow, negative beet heart cut outs, and a “sour cream” heart. It was edible. I will say now that this is the only leftover that didn’t get completely finished.

Courses four and five were a shaved fennel, blood orange, and golden and red beet salad, and a heart-shaped tomato aspic.

I’d had an individual serving of tomato aspic, I think from Mastering the Art of French Cooking at a Julie and Julia dinner party? Doesn’t that sound so 2009? I liked it a lot. Mostly that course was for me, so I bought it out with the salad.

I sort of made it up. It was some of my broth, plus spices and herbs, plus pureed tomatoes. And a buttload of gelatin. DONE. We just kind of sliced into it.

Course six was some gluten-free gnocchi. It was pretty good. It called for mochiko, which opened me up to the world of mochi style desserts (so easy). You can maybe tell from the picture they were a wee bit sticky or something but edible.

They did not want to hold their cute little fork dents per usual. I made a bog standard pesto, but with nooch instead of cheese. I vowed to serve small servings of everything, but this is where we tripped up. Course seven was taking longer than anticipated and we had a moment of weakness–Franny, Strudel, and I had seconds. Then the PAIN started. We were getting full! Crap!

Course seven is not pictured here. I made glazed five spice lamb chops and baby bok choi with forbidden (black) rice on the side. In my impending food coma I forgot to snap it. Let’s pretend it looked like this since it was based off that. Lollipops are like 4 million dollars right now so I bought loin chops. YUMM.

Finally I made a lava cake with raspberry sauce. I wish I had a picture of it “erupting” but I flinched and overcooked it (this was my first time doing a gluten free/vegan one).

It was good, though, and tasted like “flourless” chocolate cake. And that was the end and we were bursting at the seams. We spontaneously decided to teetotal that night, since it was Saturday and we wanted to not have a food AND champagne hangover on Sunday. This was a wise decision.

Here is the part like in the 80s movie when they do “Where are they now?” Everything got used up! (Except the boring soup.) On Sunday morning I woke up and gently panfried/scrambled the tartare and then cooked it into scrambled eggs. Wow that was fucking amazing and I recommend it. I don’t worry about saving raw meat/raw eggs combo if I’m going to cook it into something else in ~12 hours. Everything else just kind of got eaten.

Next up: Christmas pics from 2013. KIDDING. Hopefully next up is some beehive woodworky pics this weekend!!

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

February 26th, 2015

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!

You can’t go home again…but you sure as hell can’t stay here either

February 2nd, 2015

1. Cat Update

Goethe is doing well! She went into surgery on Friday early in the morning. They warned me in the estimate that they may find unexpected things, like a broken jaw or other problems. It turns out some of her incisors were cracked/smashed as well, so they had to come out. No broken jaw, but her lip was slightly ripped and had to be repaired. They also cleaned her teeth while they were in there.

Pictures of pictures, sorry, but I thought it was cool that they discharged her with pictures of the work. There were also xrays and after pictures. The vet tech was a really kick ass lady and I was happy Gert was her only patient that day (as she told me). I had not been fishing around in her mouth at all because I knew it would do no good, so it was neat to see these pictures.

I think she’s in decent spirits. She looks kind of funny face-on. I cannot tell if it’s a scab on her lip or if the change is permanent yet. Her face looks kind of elongated now, and she reminds me more of how her sister Matilda looked (left) before she vanished.

She kind of has a lisp when she purrs now. She’s been doing a surprising amount of purring as she sleeps on my stomach or feet at night. And she is eating an ungodly amount of wet food, which I had to buy special. I have also set up a spare litterbox at the bottom of the stairs. Usually one is sufficient since they go in and out, but of course Gertie is on house arrest right now.

We had a bonus incident on Friday when Gert was in surgery. I had the cat flap locked when she was home, but as I left to drop her off for surgery, I opened it to swing freely so the spaniels could let themselves in and out all day. I took the girls to an art museum while we waited to get the call about Gert (the girls had the day off as a between-semesters day).

For some reason (*cough* TINY BRAINS) the spaniels assumed they were locked in and did not even try the flap. They spent the day pissing on a bag that was in the downstairs bathroom, which we did not discover until bedtime Friday night. It was really a bummer because there has not been an accident in the house for over a year, when Edith first came home and was being trained. I know some little dogs can be nightmares about potty training but these two are great (Friday excepted).

“A LAKE of pee,” P. kept repeating gloomily as I mopped. My own personal sweet Eeyore who knows that when it rains, it sometimes golden showers.

Our first thought was that Mere was pissed off (ho ho pun). But we quickly realized it didn’t have that death ammonia cat smell, thank god, and then we realized it was our poor dumb dogs. Little animals cannot change routine well. We have been keeping the bathroom door closed post-cleaning and have been letting the uninjured animals out FREQUENTLY. We have the flap set to “in only” so they can let themselves back in when they are ready.

Between cat surgery and the hot water heater dying, January was an expensive month!

2. Not Yo Cheese

Second, thank you for indulging my Xtreme (90s style) whining the other day. I don’t want to make glib remarks about the scale of human suffering, but yeah, I am pretty low on it. Like I have said, I think this will all kind of inadvertently save my life. Except, you know, I am being advertent about it.

Today I found out that “advertent” is a word. I NEVER, EVER hear anyone saying it. I thought maybe it didn’t have a buddy, like “untoward.” WELL, you learn something new every day. And then forget it by 5 p.m. or so.

Speaking of things I never thought I’d advertent, I made…wait for it…vegan nacho cheese. AKA, “Just fucking kill yourself already.”

It was pretty fun. Start with a shit ton of oil, which sounds like cheese already.

Then add various aromatics and spices. Then cashews (and potatoes), which if you know anything about vegan recipe land, you know that cashews are kind of a staple in sauces and gravies. I always feel for the people in the comments who are like “I am allergic to nuts and three other ingredients in this five-ingredient recipe. What should I sub?” Um, here’s a carrot. Good luck. :(

Finally you add almond milk and some water and simmer everything until it’s tender. And then whirl it for a long time in your food processor.

The result is a lot like that classic mac and cheese made from a bechamel base. To be honest, I was never super keen on this particular “mother sauce.” I like the texture and adding things to it, but I don’t mind a vegan replacement one bit. I’m more about broth-based sauces or a nice hollandaise.

I made them to order. Ready, this is like a really boring story problem (oxymoron?): An asshole wants to make seafood mac and cheese. Strudel will not eat bay scallops, but loves crab. Her father will eat bay scallops but NOT crab. Franny and SJ are winners and will eat everything. What time will the trains collide and derail? A: Make four separate bowls with tin foil labels. I assembled the noodles, seafood, and sauce, and gave it a quick blast so everything was nice and toasty but not dry.

3. Boyfriend

I think it could have been a little better if I hadn’t held supper for so long for my dawdling daughter, who was downtown with her boyfriend. I think the two of them got together around Thanksgiving but he was a mysterious secret who I was not allowed to meet until Saturday. I think she was getting used to the idea she was having a boyfriend at all. At first, questions resulted in “MoooOOOOOoooooOOOOM” until she unclenched a little.

I, Nosyface, pelted her with questions from the get-go: what is his last name? (“Ummm…” She knows it now.) How old is he? (“Uh, 15 I think?”) So he’s a sophomore? (“Uhh yeah, is that tenth grade?”) It turns out he is sixteen and a junior. She knows many facts about him now. I forgot that when you’re a kid and this is new you don’t immediately need someone’s entire dossier–you just like someone.

I had the world’s most awkward talk recently while I was making dinner about not doing things she’s not ready for. “Like, um, sex stuff,” I said. Klunk. “Because it’s important to feel ready and like it’s the right person.”

“I know, Mom. He’s not like that.”

“And you can talk to me or your aunt if you need anything or have questions. And if you do decide to have sex, you can stop anytime. You can’t revirginize or anything, but you can stop and you don’t have to have sex with every next person. It’s a choice every single time.”

“Okay, okay.”

(It is important to pause here and note that Franny REGULARLY mocks me with this line, but I think she appreciates the check-ins.)

After meeting the boyfriend, I feel less worried. He seems like a very calm and friendly sixteen, with none of that oozing Lothario quality I used to go for. His mom dropped him off and she was nice too.

In failure news, I also decided to try making tamarind candy at home. Rather than using pods, I bought blocks of paste. My one regret is that I added the citric acid the recipe called for optionally, for “extra pucker.” It was TOO pucker. I had a couple of pieces last night, one sweet and one spicy, and it made my teeth flare up into sensitivity again.

It was a good reminder that I need to get a fucking grip (like always) because I was like ACK ACK ACK I am falling apart again!! And then in the next beat I remembered the citric acid and switched off my electric toothbrush to a regular one for last night.

Next time I will just have one! Tamarind may have replaced bergamot in my heart, now that they have long since stopped making bergamot gum.

Put your back into it

January 29th, 2015

Kind of rattling around in my house today, making sure Gert doesn’t get into trouble and counting job rejection emails (or just the silences, same thing) as they roll in. I’ve been out walking almost daily for a couple of hours at a time so if she started vomiting suddenly or took a turn I feel like that would be too long. I always take to walking when I am unemployed longer than I like.

I had a funny experience last night being out at the emergency vet. Once we checked her in, one of the front desk ladies said, “There’s coffee and hot cocoa in the waiting area.” We walked over to hang out uselessly, as you do when a little creature or child you care about is in the back room and there is nothing to do but wait.

I took in the coffee machine–it was one of those big jobs that makes one cup at a time to your specs. It spat out hot cocoa as well, which is that powdered stuff sweetened with corn syrup and probably augmented with dairy. Does it come out of the same tube as the coffee? I have no idea. I wasn’t in the mood for coffee anyway. It was eight o’clock at night and I was exhausted.

I took in the sheer array of accouterments up on their coffee prep counter. There were huge pump bottles.

“Is that…ketchup?” I said stupidly, looking around for…a hot dog machine? No, it was giant pump bottles of artificial creamer. I did not know they come in gallon bottles now. Better than the wee cups I suppose, in terms of trash. There was a vending machine next to the coffee station. The top half was a typical assortment of processed junk food–candy, crackers, chips, gum. The lower half was all soda.

P. watched me look at the machines and took a cursory glance himself. “You can’t eat anything in this building,” he said.

“Thanks.”

“Well, it’s true.”

On the way home when Gert McDirt was doped up out of her teeny walnut we stopped at Albertson’s to get wet cat food for her sore mouth and an urge struck me–I was overtired, as I mentioned earlier today, and stressed out.

“I wonder if I can eat anything here,” I said. I am unhappy to admit that I used to stress eat sometimes when things were really bad. Skittles were absolutely my Achilles heel.

I looked in the candy section…no “hippy” candy. I looked in the tiny, quarter aisle gluten-free section.

“Hmm, nothing here either, unless I want to eat a bag of date sugar,” I said.

“You may have fruit,” said P.

“UGH.”

I love fruit, but that has never been my go-to stress snack. I suspect if it was, I would have a very different-looking hind quarter. I ended up buying a bottle of wine, poured myself a glass, crawled into bed with a book, had literally one sip, and then abandoned it when I realized I was still pretty full from dinner and had already brushed my teeth anyway before I found Goethe in trouble.

“If I ever can’t have wine,” I told P., “I am going to, like, start taking ecstasy every day. Because I cannot have anything fun anymore.”

“If you take ecstasy every day, I am going to kick you out,” he replied. This, of course, is the correct response. He thought a bit. “You’d be screwed in the apocalypse, eh? Wait, maybe not, because people would be farming and stuff….” Sigh. I think I could hang on feeling crappy and working my way through the remaining processed food until we all started farming again.

I know there’s fat vegans and fat celiacs and fat all kinds of people, regardless of how “healthy” their diet is, but I’m losing weight. (Point being you can eat too much of a “healthy” diet even.) I’m sad that this is “what it took” but at the same time hooray for living longer? (Maybe?) I was on this cycle of feeling like shit, eating the wrong things constantly (i.e. almost any processed foods), having pain and not being able to exercise. So after my diet was forced to change it just didn’t sound fun anymore to eat too much. I’m sure someone like this is out there, but I don’t really know people who put on a movie at night and snack on sweet potatoes and steak. Just saying….

Well. I realized recently that since all my weird exercise hindrances (joint pain, muscle aches, random body parts popping in and out of joint) are completely gone I might as well step it up. So in addition to my doggy death marches I am back to yoga, dancing, stretching, all kinds of stuff. Let’s see how fit I can get, eh? Every night now and I am sore and it’s all good soreness.

After all this thought about comfort foods and big grocery stores and waiting rooms I found this Superbowl commercial today about how wussy being “afraid” of gluten is. When I first was diagnosed this kind of stuff used to really dismay me because I thought “Man we’re never going to get any respect from Big Food or ‘the public’ or even servers at restaurants….” And this commercial did super irritate me today, not going to lie. I can’t really get mad at Nick Offerman, because he’s riding the anti-intellectual American Fuck Yeah money train all the way to the bank. I saw him live a year or so ago and it was pretty terrible and I realized that thinking isn’t really in his job description. And if Nascar wanted to to hire me to mock, I dunno, otters or something, I probably would. Not gonna lie.

But I have come to realize that while I appreciate all the people who are working to not make gluten a punchline, I’m really outside the conversation. It doesn’t matter if restaurant servers and chefs “believe” me or not. I don’t really belong in their restaurants in the first place. It doesn’t matter if big grocery stories have a gluten free section or not, since what I need to get from there is whole foods only. No food is really marketed to me (when’s the last time you saw an ad for carrots?). I’m not going to stop taking care of myself and my family, but I am coming to grips with the fact that I often feel like some kind of tourist or observer everywhere I go that offers food.

I love food a lot and I miss having the choice of eating poorly, honestly. I don’t have religion. I’m not super serious about politics. “Having a career” doesn’t excite me. Food (trying new things and restaurants, doing things like mastering weird pastry) was my big hobby. Now I am trying to mourn for that and find new conversations I can be part of.

In Sickness and in Hairballs; Or, My Harballz Will Go On

January 29th, 2015

Poor little Goethe! We think she fell off the roof last night. She lost three canines and cut her lip up pretty badly. The emergency vet thought it was a fall in part because she has “front claw trauma”–probably trying to scrabble for a hold before eating cement.

She was swirling around my legs around 5 like she does and then disappeared–the cats usually disappear around dinnertime, probably because of all the noisy flurry of people activity in the dining room and kitchen. Dinner took a long time because like a dummy I was trying to make french fries again. Of course half the fries disintegrated in the boiling water and then the oil boiled over…I really suck at them.

“You should get a Cornballer, Mom,” Franny said. (I have just introduced her to Arrested Development, because she obviously needs more sarcasm in her arsenal.)

I think I will get a Cornballer. I miss greasy fries.

So at 7:30 I retreated to the bedroom to put on comfy pants. I was really sore because I took the dogs on another death march yesterday, all the way to a Jewish cemetery hidden in Shoreline and back. I super wanted to lay down and hopefully be asleep by 8:30 or so, for serious. My sleep schedule has been weird because of my unemployed hobo lifestyle right now. Then I saw Goethe on the bed, panting and with a bloody mouth.

Anyway, Gert’s doped out of her mind now on some kind of “opioid” substance that we squirt on her gums. The e-vet said our regular vet would probably want to remove the canine roots, and that will be that. I will have a kitty that will no longer be able to behead birds and leave them in the laundry room (silver lining). Of course being a cat, she will still probably kill them slowly in the yard anyway.

My cat flap is locked to “in only” this morning for Goethe’s safety right now, and her mother is being a huge tool about it, per usual. She will scratch the flap and meow, an activity that is very popular with her. I let her out into the backyard, making sure her injured daughter isn’t going to try to make a break for it, and Mere comes back in about 10 seconds. Then she goes back into her “I DEMAND TO SEE MY LAWYER” routine. SO TEDIOUS. There is a litterbox downstairs, lady.

Mere does this scratching routine pretty much every night on Strudel’s door. She has bonded with Strudel, of all people, who calls her “MYYY CAT.” (Just like Goethe is MYYY cat, which is why I think she retreated to my bed when she was hurt.)

I’m off to the vet in about an hour. We’ve been really lucky for the past few years. All the animals are pretty young, so the vet bills have been low.

I thought she was geeking out on this outlet in my dining room after I drugged her again (“I can see the music, man”) but then I realized the attraction was probably the sunbeam.

“Cut his hair and watch it grow”

January 23rd, 2015

“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.

IN OTHER NEWS

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.