Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How I Pay The Bills

...tossing out silly double-entendres weekday afternoons in between Korn and Imagine Dragons songs...


Saturday, October 14, 2017

One Reason...'s been a long time between posts.

The shed, which I kept angora rabbits in.  Turns out angora rabbits are very unhappy in cages, fight when taken out to play in the grass, and fight when taken inside to safety.  Also, my dog Sunny killed one of them (through my negligence).  I rehomed the second bunny in a good herd.  I was writhing with remorse over it all, so the shed sat for a year looking like this:

 ...and finally ended up looking like this:

I tore out the rabbit-pee-saturated old insulation, scrubbed it out, bleached it out and painted. 

The most pressing problem was the door, which had sagged and warped, and no longer closed. I didn't want to buy a whole new door.  We'd made a trip out to Bent's Fort and Jim's engineering brain had memorized the Old West/Steampunk technology locking mechanism, which he then recreated from scratch:

It also needs to be said that Jim painted the exterior, put the roof on it when we first got the thing and put in a brand new window.  Who's spoiled rotten?  Oh, yeah, that would be ME.

Then, the ceiling needed to be insulated.

My Mom bought the recycled denim insulation I wanted.  Installation was a puzzler, but we finally decided to use bird netting and staples to hold it in place.  It worked brilliantly.

I didn't want a bunch of heavy, space-eating paneling over it, so we went with simple muslin panels, stapled.

Then it was time to insulate the walls.  I wanted to keep as much space in the little shed as possible, while keeping it comfortable.  I went with foil-backed foam.

We didn't end up using much glue, since Jim put all the foam insulation in for me while I was at work one day by just cutting the pieces to fit between the studs and wedging them in snugly.  I was grateful, since the glue I'd started using was not agreeing with me.

Still trying to keep as much open space as possible, I didn't want paneling, but I did want the feel of a shed.  I chose contact paper that looked like rough white panels...but a little like birch bark, too.  I pasted it right onto the foam.  The glue in the contact paper wasn't my friend, either, but I had it done in a weekend.

The table had belonged to my friend Kim; I had sanded the ruined finish last year and painted it.  All I needed was a desk chair, a space heater, and a working computer and BAM:  Writing Shed.

But...I added a few things I already had that belong in any writer's space: a Day of The Dead skull because "Alas, poor Yorick" and also as a tribute to Lord Byron who was said to drink wine from a human skull.  Also Rouser, my raven puppet, because Poe.

The view from my desk is awesome, too...just trees soon to be hung with bird feeders, and the compost pile behind them.

We're not fancy.  But if feels like a massive luxury to have this little writing space. An embarrassment of riches.

And now, to get my word count up.  November is coming.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Grief Post-Its

I almost need post-its around the house. 

On the sliding glass door inside: “Don't look for him. He’s not coming home ever again.”

On the outside: “Don’t bother to pull the screen door shut and prop the box fan just so when you go out to weed and water; he’s not here to open the door and let the kitten out.” 

On the bathroom mirror: “He’s never going to be sleeping on the bathmat or in the tub again.” 

On my bedroom door inside: “He will not be waiting in the hall for his breakfast.” 

On the outside: “He’s not on the bed taking a nap. Go ahead and turn the overhead light on.” 

In the writing shed: “He will not need a bowl of fresh water ever again.” and "Don't look for him napping in the big chair.  He'll never be there again."

On the front door: “He is not lounging on the deck waiting for you to look for him here.”

In the office: “Don’t look out the window-he will never leap on top of the fence out there and stalk across the field, never again.” and "He won't interrupt your writing by jumping up, sticking his butt in your nose and stretching out across the keyboard ever again." and "He won't nap in Jim's chair again."

For the kitchen:
“Don’t put an extra spoonful of yogurt in a cat dish and take it in the office. He will never have it again.” and "When saving the tenderest, fattiest bits of chicken or salmon carefully unseasoned, only put a tiny bit in the tiny dish for the kitten.  Bob is not here anymore."

In the garden: “He will not meet you today to lie in the weeds and watch you.” 

And at night, before storms: “Don’t call him like you're calling your cub home. He’s never coming home again.”

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Magnificence of Creaturehood

How you taught me that, over and over.

The way you hid when we first brought you home, then were seduced slowly, treat after treat, finally into my arms.  The way you would glare at me when I offended you.  The way you rewarded me with the fur of your back under my nose and the swish of your long, thick, lush tail over my eyes when you were pleased with me.

The way you'd mount the 6 foot wooden fence like it was a speed bump, pause up there on an impossibly narrow edge gripped in your big paws as you surveyed your domain of fields and woods, your territory.  The way you would slip gracefully down and then stalk through the tall grass, the muscles in your shoulders rolling under your glorious black and silver coat as you set out for adventures.

The way you would join me in the garden and lie a few feet away, available if I needed you and always reviewing the action.

The way you would climb heavily onto my chest in the middle of the night, your whiskers pressed to my face as your purr thundered, and make biscuits with your huge claws digging into my flesh; you were so beautiful that I tolerated it as long as I could, wincing and finally rolling you gently off, which sometimes got me bitten.

How you could BITE, leaving the puncture wounds rimmed with bruises.

And how you could love.

And how you maintained your pride and magnificence to the last moment, bearing your agonized breathing as casually as if it were some new fashion accessory.  The way you refused to get in the carrier one last time.  Even while gasping for every breath, you could fight.

There was so MUCH of you.

You leave a gaping sinkhole for us.

We'll try to bear it with the pride, the pride of your creaturehood.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Cave

I've spent the last few weeks in what I call the cave, because it feels like the Degobah cave.

Processing trauma takes a lot of energy.  Tara Brach wrote, "Even years after the actual danger is past, the trauma, undigested and locked in our body, randomly breaks through into consciousness."

I'll be strolling along through my life and suddenly come upon the cave again. Sometimes it's triggered, and that has happened several times, but sometimes it just appears on its own. When it does, I have to go in there like Luke into that cave.

Integration of trauma and abuse takes a lifetime, but it's not your whole life.  You can go years functioning at a pretty high level and then suddenly be pulled into the deep dark undertow of the injury and all the other injuries incurred because of the first injury: the shame, anxiety, sleep disorders, mood disorders, flashbacks, panic attacks, harmful coping strategies and the additional injuries from people who don't get it and worse, presume to judge, which adds insult to injury and often ignites rage and sorrow and feelings of isolation, depression, and then anxiety; and then the cycle is triggered and starts all over again.

But if you don't do it, if you settle for half-life, it's like being half ghost.  You have to plunge into the cave, fight the fight, accept what's unacceptable, and then emerge.

I'm emerging again now, and still dragging tangled vines and tracking mud, but stumbling into the open air.

And hopefully, getting back my word count.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Trigger Mocking

Triggers are only real for the people who are triggered by them.

This is why they're mocked.

In one description I read, "Tragedy is: I have a hangnail.  Comedy is: you fall through a manhole cover and die."

Mocking other people's pain is a way to cope with our own.  That's why you see the term "triggers" used in a lighthearted or cavalier manner.  I'm sure there's a large portion of the population who would have seen my 80-something WW II veteran father dive for the ground at the crackle of thunder as the most hilarious thing they'd seen in at least a week.  And I've had many people telling me, throughout life and also lately, that I'm overreacting, being too emotional, being a victim/martyr/whiner or "giving my power away".

This form of casual brutality is like poison.  No bruises are incurred, no guns go off, but there's injury on the inside.

Just an FYI.  Mocking a trigger is in itself a trigger.

Please remember that before you fire off a little lighthearted snark.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Permission to Tell

Auspicious Tibetan chatra from

Culture is not an umbrella.  So if you're a white writer and you want to write a story in, for instance, Tibetan culture, then asking one person of Tibetan descent is not gaining permission to tell your story. That kind of permission is unattainable.

 You can be a responsible writer and do your research, resist stereotypes and get sensitivity-checked.  But you'll never get permission.

Permission is an issue with oral storytellers as well, but they take a different view.  Like some of my friends who are artists and writers who happen to come from the non-white perspective, storytellers see great benefit in "borrowing" stories.  Sharing stories across cultures is the great connecting force of the planet, because it's the shortcut to empathy. Once you've heard a story from the people, you relate on some level to the people.

As Margaret Reed McDonald states in The Storyteller's Start-Up Book, "Now is not the time to freeze all story into pockets of ethnicity.  Now more than ever we need each other's stories.

Storytelling is folk art.  
We are the folk.
Storytelling belongs to us."