I'm sorry, person at my door.

I dropped Little Z off at a friend's today so that I could lay on the couch for awhile and try to get better. I was just settling on the couch when the doorbell rang. The top half of our door is a window. I opened the curtain and saw that it was someone I didn't know, a woman with a clip board.

I shut the curtain and went back to the couch. She kept knocking for a spell, then finally went away. Considering the nature of that window, it was pretty near impossible that she didn't see me open the curtain, although we did not make eye contact.

I just couldn't handle it. I needed to rest. I'm sorry, person at my door. I just couldn't handle it. I just couldn't handle it!

The Bees and the Fever

I have officially levelled up in bee keeping. I successfully caught a swarm! With my special helper, of course. The bees we caught are thriving.

And I seem to have the flu. Which is why this is so brief. I also have this hideous bug bite on my arse that makes it hard to sit down straight. Maybe the bug bite gave me a fever?

I'm allergic to ice cream. It makes me fat.

It goes like this: We eat for energy. Everything has energy, and the stuff we eat is energy. That's why we eat it. The Eastern mythologies talk about chi and different kinds of energy. The Hindus have Karma. I think that, when we raise food unnaturally, it creates a bad sort of energy. Bad chi. Bad karma. And when you eat it, that bad energy is passed into your system. Sometimes, it makes you sick. If you figure it out, you call it an allergy. I think most people don't figure it out, though. Most people just feel sort of blah all of the time and get used to it. We get fat and stuff. We get there so gradually, we barely notice.

To muddy the waters, though, I think there are people who aren't really allergic, whose bodies actually deal quite well with all of the bad chi, but people crave attention, so they make up allergies or exaggerate their symptoms for attention. And you never know who is for real!

Although, maybe it doesn't matter. We shouldn't have to deal with this at all.

The eggs we sell are so absolutely wonderful tasting compared to store eggs. They are just so yummy. It makes no sense to me at all, because we don't do anything special for these chickens. They don't have their own spa out back, you know. They're just eggs. And the same goes for the veggies from the garden. It makes me wonder just how bad is the food from the middle aisles of the grocery store? The packaged food? What the heck is going on?

I'm sort of afraid to think about it.

The title of this entry is a quote from Grandma Ruth.

A J.C. Duffy Drawing

Maybe a good bumper sticker, but I wouldn't put this on a tee shirt.

The Nature Collection

Little Z got stung by a bee today in our nifty above ground swimming pool. I thought it was quite ironic, considering recent events. I didn't laugh, though. That would be cruel. It was difficult, but I did not laugh. She said it wasn't a honeybee. It was right on the tip of her finger where she got stung. She's fine.

I was weeding. This is what the good part of my garden looks like:

You can't see the bad part.

I was weeding the bad part today, which is actually wonderfully full of strawberries but also terribly full of weeds. And Little Z started replanting the weeds I pulled in pots. She told me,

"Give me your biggest weed! With some root, too!" And she replanted them, "for her nature collection".

The nature collection is this interesting assortment of things she has collected in the outdoors. It is always changing. She used to give tours. Once, she tried to charge me $5 for the tour. I said,

"How about a dime?" and she said,


The nature collection right now has a grasshopper in a jar, some rocks, some flowers in a an old ice cream tub, some sand, and now, weeds.

One thing is certain: Mumsey would not approve.

Le Charme Des Abeilles

Unbelievably, we caught the swarm today.

It happened like this: I woke up this morning and BAH said,

"You'll never catch them now, if they're in that tall grass."

So, later, when Little Z and I put on our protective clothing, it was all very half-hearted. I said,

"We're just checking on them. We probably won't be able to catch them, unless they just climbed inside that box."

Well, guess what? They just climbed inside that box. It must have been the French perfume. (Le Charme Des Abeilles. It's sort of like Axe for bees, you know?) Those Frenchies really do the bee keeping right.

The box was mangled badly from last night's failed attempt, so I used about a half pound of masking tape on it, while Little Z sprayed the bees with sugar water so they wouldn't fly away. Amazingly, the spray bottle worked perfectly fine today. Also, once again, I just haver to point this out: my bee keeping assistant is five years old, and she does a damn fine job!

Once the box was taped securely, I picked it up, and it was heavy, which is a good sign. Then we just drove it on over to the empty bee hive- which wasn't quite empty, actually. Stinging ants had taken up residence in it. Of course! But I got the stinging ants out yesterday, and then I put a little bit of bee perfume in there, too!

So we were all set. Except... really, I though dumping them into yet another box was going to make those bees angry, and I didn't want my little girl getting stung. Just when I was trying to figure out how to approach this, Little Z said,

"Can I just walk home now?"


So, I waited for her to walk away, I dumped the bees in the empty hive, the bees got angry and tried to sting me, but I was prepared and didn't get stung. I put the lid on and left.

I checked on them later. They're still in there, setting up home!

Bee Swarm

Little Z went off to a friend's house today and I thought, Finally some time to myself! I can put that new fence up!

So, I'm pound pound pounding away on those fence posts, and suddenly there is a swarm of bees in front of me! I didn't hear them, because I was wearing ear plugs to block out the pounding, but I guess they heard me and they didn't like it! And they must've planned on swarming... or something. I don't understand it. Anyway, I took off the ear plugs and the noise was quite disconcerting.

Such a pleasant time to myself to get work done... BZZZZZZZZ!

I went and put some bee keeping clothes on, called the expert (BAH) and went back out, and at first I thought everything was fine. Until... I found the swarm, partly inside a tree fence, and partly outside a tree fence. Another trip back to the house and I took the fence down. Now, however, they were swarming in the tall grass. BAH's instructions were to sweep them into a box and put them into our one empty hive. How to sweep them into a box?

First, I put a box next them and tried to sweep them in. That didn't work. Then I wrapped a sheet around the whole bit of tall grass and tree with the bees, and put a box in there, too, and I seemed to get a lot of bees. Then Little Z came home and put on her beekeeping outfit (fleece footy pajamas and a beekeeper hat). She smoked the bees and I put them into a still bigger box. [Note: Maybe I should be calling Little Z BAK - Bad Ass Kid? What five and a half year old helps you catch a swarm of bees, anyway? I did not make her at all. She pretty much insisted on doing it. I swear!]

We took away the box to the other hive and dumped them in. There were precious few. Most of the bees had remained in the grass. Darn.

Little Z and I set up the box next to the bees in the grass again, this time with some fancy French bee lure in the box. Nothing like French perfume to attract the bees.

Bees are supposedly docile at dusk, so I snuck back out there at 9 PM, and they were so docile, all sleeping quietly in the grass. Ah. The life pastoral. I can just slide those right into that box there, I thought.

So, I ran back into the house (which is maybe a quarter mile) and got my bee hat and my gloves and the bee broom to sweep them, and I mixed some sugar water to spray on them so that they couldn't fly- although they didn't look like they could fly at night, anyway. I don't think they can see at night.

So. No reason to take the usual precautions. I was alone. No five and a half year old needed to be protected from bee stings. I've worn little protection in the past, and it's all turned out okay.

Famous last words.

I went out there. The bees were sleeping. I started sweeping them into the heavily perfumed box. They started flying. I sprayed and- nothing! The sprayer was broken! I thought, I'll just do it really quickly, before they all wake up... More sweeping, more bees flying into the air, tried the sprayer again, still didn't work. I needed my trusty assistant with the smoker! Then I started getting stung in the legs. In my haste, I hadn't changed into thicker pants! I was just wearing leggings. Stung two or three times in the thighs. I tried taping up the box, thinking I could cut my losses, fumbled it in my bee gloves, dropped it-- hundreds of angry bees were flying out, stinging my legs! Getting into my shirt! Buzzing past my ears!

I ran like hell. Of course. My sweater is out there in the field somewhere where I dropped it as I ran. There were bees in it.

So, I guess bees don't like being awakened at night. Who knew?

Duck, duck, duck... where?

Well, nobody got eaten, but clearly something happened during the night:
He's on the wrong side of the fence!

It's nothing my trusty friend, Net, can't fix.

And all is once again right in duck world.
I wonder why he escaped? Usually, it takes something very frightening to make them try to jump the fence. They like staying home, I think.

P.S. Later on now-- I've been wondering all day about how that duck got out of the fence. It's an electric fence, and it holds the ducks in even when it's turned off. But it was on. And when I turned it off in the morning, the duck wanted to get back in, but needed help to do so. What a mystery!

The Common Fear

The fear is that the bad thing you just said it was lucky it didn't happen is just about to happen because you just said it hadn't happened. Example:

"I'm surprised no one's eaten those big, plump Pekin ducks we have out there."

"I know. The fence really isn't that good."

And now the fear is that, tonight, the quackers shall be eaten. I guess we should have knocked on wood?

Not my picture.

An Ironically Poorly Writen Post About Writing

My dad is nagging me to write a book. Does he even realize that if I write a book, he's going to be in it?

Naw, seriously. He's only in half of it. Or three quarters of it, tops.

I haven't written the book yet, mind you. Just thinking about it gives me anxiety. You see, I have written books before. Terrible books. Fiction books. I sit down, and I say, "I am going to write a book," and I come up with the latest gimmick method (snowflake), and I have to win a Nobel Prize in literature, and get it published by a major publishign house, and everyone has to like it, and, and, and, and, and... nope. I write books not worth reading, actually even embarrassing- embarrassing to myself, not to other people, like this current book.

I have the *title for the new one, which is going to be the truth. And I have the cover art. It's not that I believe in starting at the beginning and proceeding until I reach the end; it just happened that way. I did something unrelated and realized it was perfect. And this time, I'm not going to use a method. It's just going to be you and me, folks. Just like here. And this time, everyone is going to hate it, which is fine. It's my punk rock magnum opus. Scream swear words at me, everyone. Scream them. It's all good.

When I first started writing the blog, I did not at all mean it to be funny. I meant it to be poignant, touching, meaningful, I was going to make you cry, goddamnit! And then this troll stopped by and left a comment once, "You think this shit is funny? This isn't funny!" And I thought, well, no, I didn't think it was funny. Who said it was funny? This random anonymous person just said it was not funny, which must mean it seems like it's actually really funny, because this person feels really bad about himself and puts people down for doing what they do best and then he says it's not funny, which must mean it really is funny, so maybe I should work on being funny and stuff?

I am always unintentionally funny. When I try to be funny, people hate me.

I've noticed something about writers: they happen in clumps. Look at the crowd in Paris in the 1920's. Consider the Dorothy Parker and the Viscous Circle in New York. Or how about Harper Lee and Truman Capote?

When I ran into Alex Bledsoe in the library the other day, which is incidentally where I met him a few years ago, his kid playing with my kid, I felt nervous in the presence of such greatness. I didn't used to feel that way at all, because I hadn't yet read The Hum and the Shiver when I used to feel normal around him. And now that I have read the Hum and the Shiver, I get nervous in his presence. I stuck my head in my tote bag. And then I thought, I really need to act like a normal person right now. So, I took my head out of my tote bag and talked to him like a semblance of a normal person. Alex Bledsoe did what anyone would do right then: he pretended I hadn't just stuck my head inside my tote bag like an ostrich.

Mr. Bledsoe was a guest speaker in one of my classes a long time ago, which was a huge favour, and I read his books the way you read the books of people you know. I felt a sense of duty, when I started. And then the vampire books were so sexual that I was shocked and amused. The fantasy books were fun. The Hum and the Shiver, though, was in a class of its own. It was a fantasy that you could believe to be completely real. And it was about the power of music. As the daughter of a musician, I sort of loved it. And later, when I saw the author, I stuck my head in a tote bag.

The next book in the The Hum and the Shiver series comes out this week.

What if, you just have to wonder, what if the next great place to be is right here and right now? This is Paris, this is New York, this is San Francisco when the beats were on top of the world... this is right now. This is where the there is. Me. You. This.

* The title is, Don't Mind Me; I'm Not Really Here Because, you know what, let's face it: I'm never where the there is!

Bowling Tree

The owner of this tree (if you can be said to own a tree) gives my daughter art lessons.

Is it a good sign for an artist to have several bowling ball bags hanging from a tree outside?

From a fan...

Wave Theory

I drove the truck around a few days ago and saw four other trucks of the same make, year, and colour while I was out and about. So, I waved. And nobody waved back. I guess I spent too much time in my youth driving VW buses.

When I drove a '69 Volkswagen bus, everyone waved. Every other VW bus from any year, the driver waved, and I waved back. Sometimes even Vanagons waved! It got to be almost ridiculous, especially considering the sketchy transmission on that thing, which made it difficult to shift with two hands free, much less wave at someone. Usually, though, I let BAH drive, so I was free to wave.

On the motorcycle, most other motorcyclists wave, regardless of make of bike, except for helmetless riders. They're too cool, I guess. The motorcycle wave is a subdued wave, of course. You just lift a few fingers. Alternatively, you can put your hand down to the side and do a low wave.

School bus drivers wave to other school bus drivers. Sometimes, that would get to be too much for me to manage. I HAVE FIFTY KIDS ON THIS BUS AND I'M DRIVING! DO WE REALLY NEED TO WAVE RIGHT NOW?

The bicyclists who ride by our house a lot never acknowledge us at all, even when we stand right by the road! They're so in their own world. Usually they ride in packs and only pay attention to one another. They act like machines. If you are on a bike yourself, bicyclists who wear normal clothes will wave at you, and those in special bicycling clothes generally do not. A camel pack generally means you do not get waved at.

Any sedan I've owned or driven, regardless of make, was not wave worthy, except for the Mazda Miata. Other Miatas wave.

Why? Or why not? I have no idea.

Do you wave at anyone when you're out and about?

Rubbing Feathers with the Commoners

Demand for our eggs has lately exceeded production, so I looked on Craigslist today for any laying hens for sale. There was one, about a half hour's drive away, for sale for $10, but it was a show hen, a Silver Tipped Wyandotte. Still, show hens lay eggs! So I determined to buy it.

We drove out to this farm in the middle of nowhere, an exceptionally tall man came out of the house, and I had the opportunity to say something I've always wanted to say:

"I'm here to see a man about a chicken."


It turns out there's a peak age for a showing hen, and our little number seven (she has a number seven band on her leg) has peaked, and now she's old news. She was a winner, but nothing gold can stay.

The poor dear went and hid after we brought her home:

It must be horrible to be rubbing feathers with such commoners.

Little Z said she saw Friend Chicken peck Number 7 (who has a name, but darned if I can remember it- I want to call her Seven of Nine) repeatedly. "She pecked her, like, twenty times!" said Little Z. Not very friendly, Friend Chicken!

I checked in on Seven of Nine later, and she was doing fine, no longer hiding. She looked gorgeous. The only thing was, she didn't know where to sit.

Old Hens and New Turkeys

I have this friend who raises chickens in her backyard. Chickens in your backyard seem to be a thing now. It's kind of a movement, isn't it?

But what happens when they get too old to lay eggs?

Mary asked me if I would take her old hens. I said that I would just eat them, and she said that was fine. Not just fine, actually, but she was grateful. She offered me gifts. So, naturally, I accepted. She came over this morning with three old hens in some beat up crates and boxes. Her two little boys were with her, and I got the impression they didn't know about the chickens' fate.

Little Z, however, was well informed. After they left, she wanted to accompany me to "The Killing Tree" where we hang them upside down and decapitate them. I asked her several times if she was sure that she wanted to see this, and she was. She stood a few feet back while I did the deed. The first chicken was very quick and smooth. She was standing behind me, so I couldn't see her expression. I explained why the chicken's legs were still moving, even though it had no head.

I turned around and she looked so shocked! I've never seen anyone's mouth hanging open, for real, in shock.

"Are you surprised?" I asked her.


"What was surprising about that?"

"You cut its head off!"

"How did you think I would do it?"

"I thought you would burn it with fire."

My daughter thinks I set live chickens on fire!

I do not set live chickens on fire.

And here is an unrelated picture of Mrs. Turkey and some of her poults:

She looks suspicious of me. She may have good reason.

Congratulations, Mrs. Turkey!

I was cleaning out the pen with the little chickens and Mrs. Turkey sitting on eggs this morning, and I noticed something: a poult (baby turkey) was walking around! It hatched!

As it was standing there, a chicken pecked it. So, I decided it was time to move the chickens to the chicken coop. As I went around to catch the fifteen young chickens to take them to the chicken coop, a funny thing happened: they all ran to Mrs. Turkey! They think she's their mama!

And poor Mrs. Turkey was trying to protect her poults.

Thank goodness for little girls and their butterfly nets:

That's a chicken in there. I took them one by one to the other pen. As I did this, the remaining ones got even closer to Mama Turkey. They went under her and over her and behind her and on top of her.

Somehow, I finally convinced Mrs. Turkey to get up and walk around, and there were still four chickens and six or seven poults hiding underneath her! They're still under her in this picture. Do you see the little turkey standing in front of mama turkey?

Poor Mrs. Turkey.

I finally got all of the chickens out of that pen. They didn't like being separated from their mama at all. The irony is that I put them in with their actual parents.

"The beatings will continue until moral improves."-*

Or, also, the shearings will continue until moral improves.

Somehow, I'm never as glamorous in photographs as I feel, you know?

Yes, we sheared another sheep today. It went much, much, much better. I learned how to use the real sheep sheers- the manual kind, not electric. It went fine. The only thing is, it took three hours to do one sheep. So, one a day.

Then we went the the fair.

That's me on the ferris wheel. I mean, that's what BAH says. I'll take it on faith. That ferris wheel absolutely terrified me. The support beam in front of me was bent. Also, there was a sign that said, "DANGER: DO NOT ROCK CAR." And the kids on the one car were totally rocking the car! Also, the people behind us were screaming. A lot. Also, there's just that little tiny bar holding you up and OH MY GOD it's high up!

It was loads of fun.


"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." -*

Today was my last day of school for a long time. More bitter sweet goodbyes were uttered and hugs given than ever before. I really don't know why. I've come to expect nothing from fourteen year olds, in the way of emotional gratification. I mean, they're fourteen.

I won't share everything, but my favourite sentimental comment yesterday was,

"I think I'm actually going to miss you. I never thought that about a teacher before. Man, that's messsed up. I'm actually going to miss a teacher. Isn't that messed up?"

Sweet kid. I really am going to miss him a lot. I don't know why. He drove me insane. I totally want to cry right now.


Little Z recreated my teacher desk at home:

Notice her attention to detail: The star stickers, the bell, the tote bag (all teachers carry tote bags- it's the law, like gravity), and that crate next to the desk is full of notebooks, each with the name of one of her stuffed animals on it. And she keeps writing me "bafrom" passes when I leave the room.


Little Z's report card for kindergarten was a mixed bag. Everything subjective, and everything related to behaviour was generally not very good. She got the lowest grade possible for paying attention. One would think, with such poor attention, that she would not learn anything, but she got all four out of fours for every reading skill and every math skill. So. She learned everything perfectly. And, she can't pay attention at all? Huh?

It baffles me. I ended up telling her,

"Good job! You learned everything you were supposed to learn in kindergarten!"

I was in the car the other day with Little Z and she said, "If you have two quarters and fifty pennies, does that make a dollar?"

Today, at the eighth grade picnic, she told someone that she thought chickens couldn't fly because she examined the Gentle Giant's skeleton, and discovered that he did not have hollow bones, but birds that fly have hollow bones, so that must be why chickens can't fly: they don't have hollow bones.

Honestly, is that true? And was I that smart when I was five?

Anyway, whatever her teacher thinks about her attention span: I'm not worried one bit.

Okey dokey.

* Abbey Road. Best album of all time.

Le Chat est Revenu

Teresa the Cat has returned! He showed up exactly two hours after BAH said,

"What we need around here is Teresa, to eat all of this Opal Tasty." [Opal Tasty is beef liver.]

"Oh, no, Teresa isn't coming back. I think that was really her I saw seven miles away."

"Him. You think that was him. Teresa is a boy."


Here is Teresa, feasting on his beef liver:

Teresa Burritt could have some, too, if she should return. We would give her a fresh plate. She could even come inside our lame house. Come right on in through the window.

Find the Ducks

Hints: They are white. You can mostly just see their heads.

Click on the picture to enlarge.

They have been dredging their own pond in the middle of the yard. I think they work on it mostly at night. We're gonna tunnel our way outta here, Charlie. Just keep digging! Quack.

The Tin Man

Another familiar sight, but there's only one. Maybe there is a barn, somewhere. A red barn.

A Reason for Sheep

When we sheered Sevilla:

We tried putting Sevilla on her butt, and she kicked me in the face.

We tried tying Sevilla to the fence to keep her still, and she broke free.

We tried tying Sevilla to the other fence to keep her still, and she broke free.

We tried holding her really tightly, and that worked for awhile, but then we were in too much pain to continue.

With every attempt, though, I cut off more and more of her wool with the child safety scissors, until we had a heavy garbage bag full of wool.

It took about an hour and a half. Little Z came out while we were still holding Sevilla really tightly, but already had a bag of wool sitting next to us, and she said,

"Wow! Is that a whole bag of wool?"

"What? What? Holy-- Yeah, that's a whole bag of wool. Good lord! What the-- Hold still--"

"Can I carry it back to the house?"

I had horrific images of a big wind coming up and all of the hard earned wool being sacrificed to the god of careless but well meaning kindergarteners, so I said,


Little Z lurked for a bit longer, watching.

"Can I please carry the wool back to the house?"

"What? No! I already said no!"

I may have not had as much patience as usual, considering I was straddling a sheep and contorting myself sideways around some big horns to get at the wool on the side of Sevilla's neck.

Before I knew it, I could hear Little Z screaming and crying, echoing up the valley as she walked back home and yelling some incoherent babble about us being the worst parents ever and we never let her help and it was her job to carry the wool and did she mention we were the worst parents ever? Sobbing. Yelling. Echoing. Loud. I'm sure that Ian and Anne, who were having their wedding up the road (according to the signs) were extremely pleased to have that little glimpse into their possible future. We're glad to be of service, Ian and Anne. Congratulations.

When we finally "finished" (gave up), I went back to the house and found Little Z, who had stopped crying and was playing by herself.

"Do you want to carry the wool in?" I asked.


So I walked with her, and she carried the wool in. Then she took a little bit of wool and made a heart "blanket".

No, that's not cat vomit. Nor is it a dead bat. It's a heart shaped dollhouse rug made from artisanal raw Jacobs sheep wool. My daughter is an artist.

And if that isn't enough reason to have sheep, well, I don't know what is. And then there's this:

I can only dream of aspiring to such heights.

Don't you know me?

We sheered a sheep for the first time today. It went about as you might expect it to go. I only got kicked in the face once, and not very hard. This was the result:

Sevilla is our orneriest sheep, by nature. She's usually the one to tell me exactly what she thinks of me. She didn't like being shorn one bit. Especially not with a pair of children's safety scissors. (I was terrified of using the real sheers. They looked way too lethal. A friend of mine sheers her llamas with children's safety scissors. I only gave Sevilla one tiny nick with them, so I was happy with that result. Not sure if they give a close enough shave, but oh well. Whatever.)

Sadly, none of her sheep friends seem to recognize her. They're like, Where's Sevilla? And who's this goat following us around? Even though they all stood and watched us sheer her. This is why it's okay to eat sheep.

Even Tom Turkey seems to be more accepted by the flock! Even her daughter (her own daughter Yoshimi!) doesn't recognize her.

She's next.


Little Z is finally getting potty trained at night. She's been a bed wetter for a long time, but the past couple of weeks, she's actually getting the hang of staying dry.

We told her we were proud of her.

"What's your secret?" I asked her. "What's different? How have you been staying dry all night?"

"I stay awake all night," she said. "I just never sleep, and then I never wet the bed."