Fine! A Chicken Story! Happy now?

Amenadiel, my Buff Orpington, decided that February was a great month to hatch some chicks.  20170212_093643

(Yes, I watch Lucifer, and the only reason I named a “blonde” chicken after a black character on the show was because when the chicks were small, there were three that were easily identified, and it was a roll of the dice who got what name.  And it was too early to tell if Amy, as we call her, was a boy or girl, so there we are.  For what it’s worth, Lucifer ended up a Luci as well, but that’s what they call him on the show, anyway.)

I could have stopped her.  You just take the eggs away and put a bit of ice under the hen. That stops the broody behavior quickly, but I honestly thought it was too cold for the eggs to even hatch.  Silly me.

When I got home yesterday, I found Amy huddled on the ground with four chicks under her.  And five dead chicks scattered throughout the enclosure.

I removed the little corpses so that decomposition didn’t poison the flock, and set Amy up with a well-lined box that she used exactly once and promptly ignored thereafter.

I don’t know what’s going to happen.  It’s way too early for this, but since the flock has completely accepted them, we’re going to let it go and see what happens.

It’s not worth it to bring them inside.  If I do, I will have to reintroduce them to the flock after keeping them inside for weeks, and that is a long, miserable process that might end up in death, anyway.

Right now, Azrael, the alpha rooster, is being a wonderful daddy, tuttutting at the chicks and tossing crumbs to them and Amy.  He also pecked hard at Einstein, the Grande Dame of the flock, when she almost stepped on a chick.

Castiel, the beta rooster, is completely useless, but pretty, so here’s a picture of him.  Yes, that Castiel.


I have to somehow clean the big coop (deep litter method!) with a pitchfork and new straw, without somehow stepping on a chick or causing a riot with the other chickens who go nuts over new straw.  (SEEDS OMG SEEDS!)

Cross your fingers.  They’ve lived about four days, from the looks of them, so with luck and a good mommy and daddy and a careful Treat and Cleaning Lady, they might make it.

Update:  1:38 p.m. We’re down to three chicks.  Looks like this one succumbed to pasty butt.  *sigh*  The other three look pretty perky, so continue to cross your fingers.

The Recursive Nature of Isolation

Depression is a persistent part of my life.  My depression isn’t just a soup of sadness or a bland numbness gruel–it’s quite frequently a chili spiced with anger, frustration, jealousy and even rage.  It’s a negative emotion gumbo of everything you don’t want to eat all mixed up together. I’m also one of those depressed people with suicidal ideation, and I seem more inclined in that direction when I’m angry than when I’m numb.


Another frequent feature of my depression gumbo is loneliness, which the mentally ill such as myself (yep, depression is a mental illness) like to handle in exactly the opposite way that a well person handles it.

A well person will feel sad or lonely and immediately think that inviting a friend out for drinks, either to talk about the feelings or avoid them altogether, will alleviate the feelings.  And often, they’re right, whether the feelings are addressed or not.

A mentally ill person will want very much to ask someone out for drinks but is afraid it will be a) perceived in the wrong light; b) rejected, because who wants to hang out with a depressed person and talk about feelings or avoid them altogether; c) accepted and then regretted, because how much fun can you have with a depressed person or d) all of the above (which can totally happen all at once in a depressed person’s head).

So the depressed person will double down on the isolation, perhaps with the excuse that introverts need alone time to recover.  And this would be true, if it were an energy and not an emotional recovery.  Introverts also need social interaction, in small doses and safe environments, when they are lonely or sad. We don’t stop being human just because we process energy differently.

Or maybe the doubling down just comes from the fear that the bad feelings will be unwelcome, and let’s face it, in this society of “fake it til you make it,” they often are. Remind me to talk about my mother someday.  Just not now, because I’m already an inch from a Hulk rage.

Or maybe the doubling down comes from knowing that the friend who is your go-to in sad times is a bit of a depressing sad sack herself and the two of you together could create a black hole of depression, swallowing everything in the vicinity.  (If you have been depressed as an adult for more than 10 years, this event has probably happened to you, so it’s not an unreasonable fear.)

So, the depressed person withdraws further into herself.  And, being mentally ill, it’s not an enlightening experience.  It increases the mass of that potential emotional black hole, which makes her more alone, more lonely, more sad (and in my case, more angry, because I know goddamned well I did this to myself, and hey, look, it’s our friend self-hate come to swim in the gumbo!).  The whole thing becomes a bit like those David Hasselhoff gifs where you fall into his underwear forever.

Yes.  That horrifying.

I haven’t figured out a foolproof, surefire way to escape the recursion every time.  (If I did, I would be on late night infomercials every night on TNT.)  I just somehow get out (still here, yes? I got out). It usually takes another person finding joy in something, but sometimes, it’s just a glimpse of bright sun in winter, a particularly beautiful flower, or a friend writing to check on me.

How bad is it right now?  Well, I have two letters here, one I’ve opened and one I have not.  The one I’ve opened, I’ve reacted quite badly to, so I’m afraid to open the other.  Oh, and I hate the kittens.  Yep.  Castor and Polluxia, the what, six month old kittens (maybe?  not sure) that my husband lets cuddle with him all the time, the kittens who lie on my feet and try to follow me into the bathroom.  I hate them.  I hate both of them.  I hate the sight of them.  And I hate myself for hating them.

My counselor had to cancel this week because she’s got the illness going around (the one I had badly for one week around New Year’s and has just annoyingly hung on now, still, today, rasping my voice and burning the inside of my nose), and I won’t see her until next week.

I am lost in David Hasselhoff’s underwear, dude, and I don’t know how to get out.  Any suggestions?

Puritan Rage

Today, JK Rowling smartly slapped her ruler down on the waving hand of a reactionary critic doing my favorite thing:  telling her to shut up and go back to…well, not even writing, because he doesn’t like that, either.

The “Satanesque” stab is a giveaway; this is a person who probably professes Christianity, but would be better described as a Puritan.  The Puritans were (and are) more obsessed with the Old than the New Testament.  They can quote at length from the parts of the Bible they agree with, which are usually confined to the Pentateuch, but go into a slobbering, screaming rage when confronted with the actual words of Christ. Their religion derives less from the Bible, however, than from the writings of John Calvin, a French theologian from the Protestant Reformation.

Calvin is also the source of what we refer to today as “Prosperity Christians.”  Calvin preached predestination–that is, that anyone was who was saved was predestined to be so, and that one of best ways to tell who had Gods’ favor was to see how prosperous they were.  He also preached in God’s absolute sovereignty over man, and thus the clergy’s absolute sovereignty over the populace.  In other words, give yourself over to God and God’s self-proclaimed representatives on Earth.  (But of course, only certain representatives.  The Pope doesn’t count.)

The word “absolute” there is not an exaggeration.  Absolutism colors virtually every facet of the Puritan’s life.  He cannot abide a gradient, so anything that even slightly disagrees with his beliefs must be either strenuously disparaged and discarded, or, if his desires conflict with his beliefs, compartmentalized carefully, much like a child cannot have his potatoes touch his vegetables on his plate, or they are contaminated.  This is how anti-LBGT politicians end up playing footsie in public bathrooms to solicit gay sex. If no one knows about it, it never happened.

This absolutism, this inability to recognize or accept the dirty messiness of life, leads to hypocrisy, as above, with Senator Larry Craig’s scandal, or cruelty, as in the pray (and beat) the gay away reorientation camps to which Puritan parents subject their children.

And all of it, all of it, is infected with rage.  There’s a lot of Puritan rage right now.  Because a Puritan’s worldview is absolute, disagreement is not an option.  By disagreeing, you are insulting and rejecting their God, who will show you, you’ll see.  This sets off the most ridiculous and terrifying spews of language and violence completely at odds with everything Jesus ever said.  Hence, “shiterature,” which is, I think, supposed to be funny, but I’ve never met a Puritan yet who fully grasped the concept of humor beyond a child’s idea that if once is funny, a thousand times must be hilarious.

What is that rage?  Is it really the idea that their God is that offended and helpless that He requires the aid of a human to scream, spit and strike at others?  I doubt it.  I think it has more to do with the idea that Puritans are so terrified of having the wrong answer, that since there can only BE one right answer in their gradient-less worldview, that any hint of wrongness on their part is an indictment of all.  Every part must be defended.  Every absurdity, if part of the belief, must be fortified.  Every challenge must be not merely averted, but destroyed.

Or the whole thing falls, and that is impossible.

It’s the absolutism that is the problem with such Christians, the Seven Mountains proponents, the Dominionists, the Puritans.  It’s their absolutism which has to be broken, in order to reach them.  Until it is, there is no capacity in them for empathy, compassion, kindness or cooperation.  They actually believe they are in a war against anyone not like them.

And I really don’t know how to deal with that.  Because reminding them who Jesus was and what he preached is ignored, since they are now convinced that Jesus is coming back on their side to kill us all.

How do you deal with that?


Two people asked me about my Facebook account:  my brother and a friend.  My brother assumed I had blocked him.  The friend guessed correctly I had deactivated the whole account.

It’s been almost two months now and I don’t feel the void I expected to find.  The only time I’ve even considered bringing the account back is to retrieve my Spotify playlists, but once I made a new account, emailed Spotify, and verified my identity, that problem was solved.  Facebook is a timesuck and a hotbed of tribeseeking.  It fosters those who need others’ validation, and gives them space to find permission for cruelty, racism, hatred and ignorance.  So I pulled the plug and left.

My husband tells me, however, that people miss the “chicken stories.”

I’ll be honest–I’m not sure I want to bring those back, or even continue them in a different venue.  I learned something about people in this last election season, or I should say, I relearned it from my days long ago at MIPB.  People think they can control your content, your stories, your words, and your art, by restricting you to the things they like about you.  When you challenge them with things they don’t like or agree with, they will demand that you “stick to” or “go back to” the “things you do best,” the things they like.  As if you were a puppet they were playing with that suddenly spoke on its own.

Artists, writers, actors, singers and dancers are people–not products.  I know that’s a difficult concept for most Americans to grasp, since they think they can buy or boycott anything.  But artists do not STOP being people when they do their art, and they do not stop when they are not doing their art.  People have a right to feelings, emotions, opinions and expression, even if they are uncomfortable for you.  Even if they disagree with you.  ESPECIALLY if they disagree with you.

And if art does not disturb you on some level, if it is just rainbows and sunshine, it is not doing its fundamental job.  Art exists first for itself, and secondly, to make you a better human being.  You cannot be a better human being if you are not challenged, if you are not made to see injustice, if you are not shown your hypocrisies, if you are not confronted with all of who you are, if you are allowed to hide behind “niceness.”

So, yes, my chicken stories are comforting, cute and amusing.  They make you happy and you like them, even when you don’t like what else I might be saying.  But they are not all that I am, and I will not be restricted to them just because you think my words, my stories, my opinions are a product that you can choose to buy or not buy.

I have been withdrawing for some time, because America is full of bullies right now. Full of bullies who don’t think they’re bullies at all, but who are cruel, nasty cowards who honestly need a Ralphie rage-drumming in front of the whole school.  I have been nice.  And I have written chicken stories.  And I’ll probably continue to write chicken stories.

But they aren’t all that I am, nor will I be restricted to them.  I’m going to challenge myself, show myself the injustices, expose my hypocrisies and confront both you and me with all that I am.  I won’t hide behind the niceness.

If you come along, fine.  But I have no time for bullies, liars and cowards. I blocked my first non-sex-spam follower on Twitter today.  I can do it as many times as necessary.

Parachute journalism and rural America’s revenge — Beth Macy

While everyone was so sure Hillary Clinton was going to win, I looked around my rural community and saw a different story. This story. I’m not saying I wasn’t shocked–I was. But I had an inkling things weren’t going to go quite the way everyone said they would. And this is why. (Shared post–I did not write this and the picture isn’t mine, either.)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Below is an essay I first published for The Ochberg Society, a now-defunct grassroots group of journalists who cover trauma, upon the publication of FACTORY MAN in 2014. I’ve been thinking a lot about the people featured in my essay and in that book recently. Last week on Election Day, I traveled back to Bassett, Va., to […]

via Parachute journalism and rural America’s revenge — Beth Macy

Slow rebeginnings

Slow rebeginnings

It’s been a weird year for my garden. The whole attempt to grow seedlings, in or out of the greenhouse, has been a disaster. Of probably 200+ tomato plants i started from seed, I have four I could actually plant.

Everything is growing slowly. Seeds I planted right in the soil are taking forever to germinate, though the soil is moist, the ground is warm and there’s been plenty of sun. I have Jack B Little pumpkins seeds two weeks in the ground and not a single bit of green is peeking up.

Tulip bulbs rotted in the ground this spring. The hosta, columbine and astilbe starts I planted never showed. (It didn’t help that I got chickens, who tore up the ground in that area–no, they don’t have access to the rest of the garden–but the starts were doing nothing for weeks, so I can’t blame the chickens.)

The cilantro seeds never took. Ever.

But the salvia came back on its own and is lush. The snapdragons I put in are growing their leaves, even though there are no flowers yet. The hydrangea I bought in three different colors seems to be thriving.

I just don’t understand.

And why are the lush, double-blossom begonias so hard to find? Everyone’s got the singles, but I don’t want them.

I guess the answer to the rest of it is….time for soil testing!

It’s supposed to be good when you stop!

It's supposed to be good when you stop!

On the last 8 minutes of my run, I suddenly felt like someone grabbed my uterus in both hands and squeezed. Now let’s just say the timing of such an event was off by at least a week. I decided I would breathe and run through the pain, because exercise is actually quite good for cramps, and if my system had decided to go off schedule, this was probably the best thing I could be doing for myself.

The pain just got worse. And worse. And worse, until it felt like someone was not just squeezing, but twisting. I had about a minute and twelve seconds left to go, so I just kept on. It’s like labor. You ride it out. It was going to stop when I stop running, so hang in there and finish the run.

My timer went off and, because stopping dead and standing is not a good idea after a run, I slowed to a walk.

That invisible person inside me decided my uterus was taffy. Squeezing and twisting became pulling, and now wrapping it all around the base of my spine. And yanking.

The pain did not stop after I walked all the way home in near tears, gulping and gasping against it. Finally, after 30 minutes of slow subsiding, the pain quit.

I decided to see if anyone else out there was having the same problem, and if they were, what they were doing about it. What was the cause? More importantly, what was the treatment?

Search “menstrual-like cramps while running” and you’ll find what I found: a lot of women posting the same symptoms, a lot of other women “me too-ing,” and a lot of other people misunderstanding and not offering real help.

It’s not gastrointestinal. I know where my frigging uterus is and I know what it feels like when it hurts. So stop telling me it’s gas or IBS. It’s not menstrual cramps. Though at my age, my cycle is harder to predict, I am pretty damn sure that it’s not coming back after one week.

Why in the world would my uterus be cramping off schedule because I’m running? And why are there lots of women with the same symptoms, but no answers?

Only one of the women posting the question mentioned she had run without eating. That she had gotten up and run before breakfast. Someone else said do not do that–your glycogen stores are depleted and your body will go after less efficient sources of fuel such as fat stores (GOOD!) or muscle groups (BAD!).

As it happens, I had also run before breakfast. I came home and had a V8–what I always drink right after a run–and later, some breakfast.

I’m still kind of sore.

I am good with my uterus, a muscle inside my body–also getting toned, but I’m not good with that kind of pain during and after running. I’ll try eating something before my run Sunday morning and see if that makes a difference. If not, I may need to use my brand spanking new health insurance and go see if everything is in working order.

Any more me-tooers out there? Or anyone with a genuine answer?

On the road again

My athletic club membership ran out and I couldn’t find the day passes I thought I had. I must have given them away. We might be buying a condo at the end of the week, but I didn’t want to wait until then to run.

So I took my butt out into the sunshine and onto the road.

Lesson learned: Treadmill progress does not equal road progress.

I kept to my four minute intervals, so at least I could do that, but it was NOT comfortable and I’m sure my speed overall and my distance were much lower than my treadmill time.

In other words, today’s run was a great success.

What, slower times, discomfort and backsliding are not success?  They will be tomorrow, when my body, which is cursing me right now for making it do more than it was prepared to do, adjusts all the levels, repairs all the muscles and ligaments, and stokes the internal fires, just like it always does when I shake things up.  

Getting out on the road today was not only the right thing to do.  It was the BEST thing to do.  I won’t be running Bloomsday on a treadmill.  I’ll be running it on asphalt, up and down hills.  In real weather.  Actually carrying my weight through air resistance and having to fight gravity.  

Running inside on a treadmill was the right thing to do when it was snowing and Denton Road was slick with ice.  Things have changed now.  It’s time to get out there and move.  

Who’s with me? 

Time Away

I’ve been gone a long time. About the time I stopped posting, my father found out his cancer had returned and he had only a little while left to be with us. It seemed more important to spend the time with him, rather than to post about food, fashion and crafts here.

He died January 7th. Only now am I beginning to feel my time is my own again.

I fell off the Primal wagon. I may try to jump back on, but right now, I am just keeping track of what I eat, EXACTLY how much (as in, I’m weighing it), and how I feel after. I’m running every other day, close to 5 miles each time.

My world is pretty small at the moment. I’m concentrating on good habits and discipline. I’m still not in a place where my emotions do much soaring, but they’re also not doing a lot of plunging.

For now, that’s good. I have plans. I have big plans.

But for a little while longer, I need to live minute by minute.

Wednesday Knitting

Wednesday Knitting

Latest knitting project: a drop-shoulder pullover with fullness in the sleeves and lace banding on all pieces.

It’s a pattern from 1994, so the styling might be a bit out of date–I’m thinking of the sleeves specifically–but it looks like it’s going to be comfortable and cool this spring and summer. I’m thinking of wearing it with a tank, a wide belt in a neutral and jeans. Early in the season, booties will work, and then later, shorts and sandals.

This is the first sweater I’ve ever worked with straight needles in the neckline. Most ribbed collars I’ve done with circular needles. I know how to seam the neck invisibly, so I’m not intimidated.

Unrelated note: still doing Primal, still holding steady.