Category Archives: Chicken Reverie

De-cluttering and Repurposing

Part of the appeal of selling Providence, beyond the opportunity to practice relaxing my clinging muscles, was the fact that all our stuff would be in one place. Which seemed like an excellent idea at the time. The reality? We now know, clearly and unequivocally, that we have too much stuff.

On the brighter side, we have gotten rid of a lot of stuff.


The issue I have with Marie Kondo? She has a shopping disorder. How can one consistently get rid of four large garbage bags of clothing? And do it again three months later? Carl and I have the opposite problem. We still have T-shirts we have worn for twenty years. We like the holes and stains. Why would we get rid of a perfectly good work shirt? We need to keep it. How dare we let it go?

Enter The Organizer of All Organizers: Susan P.

We hired her to help us de-clutter and organize the chaos we created in May when we staged the Providence house, and again in late August and early September, when we did the final haul, ending up with an overwhelming amount of stuff at Darwin’s View. We needed help. At least, I did. I don’t work in clutter. I shut down . . . then note that Carl is quite cheerful when surrounded by piles of papers. He can even pay bills without twitching! Not I!

We both knew this about the other but working with Susan P. opened our eyes to a deeper understanding. Until that week with her–actually, it was only three days but it felt like a week and i’s a small miracle we survived to tell about it–Carl had been relatively unfazed by my comments about his stuff cluttering the basement and garage. Admittedly, over the years, he had gotten a bit defensive about it but who wouldn’t be, if someone–me–keeps nudging and commenting about all that junk that Carl defined as items that could be significant, and possibly useful, at some future time. And he never mentioned how much it bothered him, my tendency to start a project and not finish it because I was so enamored with the next project. Susan P. put us and our kitchen under a glaring light and penetrating microscope.

We hired her on only for the kitchen and the basement pantry. Carl and I figured it would take a day, not three. But day one, we got through six feet of the  kitchen counter. Even Susan commented how slowly things were going. But every object had to be scrutinized and debated by us. Example: Susan would pick up a rubber band.

“Can we agree to throw this out?”

“No,” Carl would say and remove the rubber band from her grasp. He would shove it into his pocket. She would frown.

“Carl, take that out of your pocket. It’s fine to keep it.  (Sic) We only need to find a place to store it.”

That would result in a conversation that would lead to the guest room/home office room where all our recycling had collected. Carl planned to make a recycling center but it hadn’t quite made it to fruition. He had a drawing done. And a partial cupboard built. And lots of stuff to recycle. But nothing had a place and everything in its place. It meant for an overwhelming amount of eye clutter. I had entirely given up on anything to do with recycling. We kept the office door shut. Susan P. opened it, winced, found a plastic container to put the rubber band into. She picked up a salt shaker.

“You have three salt shakers that I can see. Have you anymore?” We shook our head. Miraculously, we agreed to get rid of one. But she countered by saying it might be nice to have it outside on the deck. We pointed out it would blow away the next time the wind picked up. We agreed to disagree and watched as she placed the salt shaker outside on the deck, both Carl and I muttering we’d bring it in that night. Spatulas and knives. Carl offered to make a drawer to contain the spatulas. And another for the knives. At which point, Susan P. commented on how everything was a potential new project for Carl. That maybe we needed to settle for less than perfection. Meantime, she created a “Carl’s future project paper bag.

Etcetera. By the end of the day, our brains were fried, our bodies drained, our moods grumpy.

Day two, Susan P. noted that Carl, as did she herself, has hoarder tendencies. That we can’t save everything. That, at a certain point, we had to throw something out. Carl looked panicked and pained. To give him breathing room, she set her sights on me. I, apparently, am a compulsive starter of projects and my failure to finish them drives Carl . . . batty.

I denied such an insult. . . until Carl confirmed that it did bother him, all those piles of clothes to be sorted, cupboards emptied and left to tidy themselves, dirty dishes in the sink that I will get to but he gets to them first and it’s practically unfair, how he does all the dishes before I can do them!

We are both perfectionists. We just exhibit things differently.

Three days of hell and we didn’t make it to the pantry. We threw out stuff, gave away stuff, organized stuff. We still have too much stuff and on occasion miss what we gave away: the filter for the old lemon squeezer. The teapot that we finally found the sieve for. Gone. But we learned how to organize and set up systems and, at times, when still faced by too much, I think wistfully of Susan P. Sometimes it helps to have that objective third person to direct us toward simplification and elimination.

A Providence friend looked around our New Hampshire house this past weekend. She ambivalently noted that we had managed to fit in all our stuff.

She has no idea how much we let go of.

She has no idea what’s still in the garage.


Carl and I were exhausted by the de-cluttering and organizing process. We wanted to get on with our new, New Hampshire-centered life. And what better way to do that then to address the chicken coop situation? Chicken Paradise is disheveled. The plastic that protects the runs is ripped apart. The chicken wire is recoiling from the wooden doors. The wood is warping. And there sits the glass Bus Stop Greenhouse in the middle of the field. One plus one equals two and as we watched the dust from Susan P.’s car settle back onto the drive, it was time to build the Bus Stop Chicken Coop.

First we had to move it.

With that process checked off our To Do list, Carl spent the next week, on and off, drawing a plan for the coop that he would build inside the bus stop. Talk about wind protection! But every day, he pecked and poked, and every day, the situation felt wrong. His heart rebelled because he did not want to build a coop, only to have us determine, as we have too often in the past, that it’s not quite right. He knows how we are! He has built a battalion of coops: The Providence Hut. The Hurricane Sandy Emergency Coop. The Hay Chalet. The Chicken Palace. The Nursery. Chicken Paradise. The Road Chick Quonset Hut Coop. And various tweaks in between because every year we have to re-winterize the coop and its runs. That requires determining whether to protect the runs with ninety hay bales or wrap them with plastic. And always, it takes a full day to implement. Sometimes two. And so the very idea of spending yet more money and more time building a chicken coop? Carl didn’t like acting the part of Sisyphus.

He came up to my office and presented his dilemma. I joined him outside in the Bus Stop. The sun shone in through the thick glass. The wood foundation he had built and now sat on, proved the durability of anything we determined he would build. We went around in the circles we had circled before. Coop size. With or without doors. Predator proofing.

And maybe we should just keep the chickens where they are because they were getting a bit insistent about where our boundaries and theirs might meet, and what if we don’t like having the chickens quite so close to the house next spring? But then we remembered the uptick in drafts in the current coop. The distance of that coop from the house and the upcoming winter. Given the fifty inches of rain in Texas and the hurricanes down south, were we in for a brutally ice-y and snowy winter and shoveling the chickens out? Much easier if they are five feet away. Near is good in winter. And so back into the bus stop we went, contemplating all the wood and insulation we would have to buy, the radiant heat tubing for the floors. (Kidding!)

And then ba-da-bing! Lightning struck. I looked at the nearly defeated Carl and reminded him: REUSE! RECYCLE! REPURPOSE! Carl’s resistance to Susan P.’s lessons rose up refreshed and refurbished. Rather that buy new stuff, use the old! We would bring over the quonset hut and attach it to the bus stop. Somehow. Carl would figure it out. And what about the Providence Hut, I asked! The girls love it. It’s in the hut that the young pullets have been laying their little eggies (as we found out when we went to move it. Seven precious, wee eggs.) And maybe, just maybe, we could somehow use the old generator cover.

Carl’s mood dramatically improved, his sense of purpose returned. We dragged all the above over to the bus stop and soon enough the girls came over to join us. They hopped into the Hut as we shoved it around. Jumped into the Quonset Hut, clucking and cooing. Eventually . . . they approved. They really approved. They like this idea so much, we can hardly keep them out of the coops for long enough to reconstruct them into their new home.

It was that easy.

Would we could do the same for the sixty-three million homeless people in the world. Or is it one hundred million?

We are the fortunate ones. So are our chickens. But is gratitude enough? There must be something more to balance the grotesque evil with the gracious beauty of every day.

Regeneration and Rejuvenation in Three Parts


Our lap pond no longer leaks. It hardly even evaporates. And I am determined to swim every day because this is not a four season pool and the season is fast coming to a close. The last two days, the water was 68 degrees and the air a bracing 47. Nippy. Almost too but still beareable. Delicious and there is a part of me that needs to be in that pool with the frogs and water bugs. When swimming between two mountains in that very cold water, I am filled with a sense of gratitude and convergence. As if all that has happened in my lifetime actually makes sense. That being here at Darwin’s View is exactly where I am meant to be. After these last seven years of bewilderment, that’s refreshing.

How get into the water? Once decided to do it (no, yes, no, yes, no, yes), I ask leave of the resident leopard frog. He dives off into the darkness, to safety. I step onto the first step to follow him, and the next, and the next. I can’t spend time considering the chill of the water. I know that if I hesitate for too long, my toes will be numb before I am fully submerged, and the swim will be a euphemism for a mere wetting. Splash! I’m in and fully awake, swimming from a pinked-by-the-sunrise Mount Monadnock toward Pac Monadnock. Clouds rest on its shoulder like a blanket of snow. As I come up for breath, I note the plants of the pool’s stone bed regeneration system. Below me, water bugs do the breast stroke. Snails on the side of the pool. A dragonfly birthed from its cocoon. Skin chilling, I feel the shape of my body, where it ends and the water begins. My awareness of my feet, legs, torso is vivid. The water livens me. It heals me. It is me. Being. I am in the moment, for once, because the moment, this one in the pool, is absolutely perfect.

Only three laps. Four. Five. I could swim forever, and want to, but the cold sinks into my blood. My toes cramp. Unlike the frogs, I am not cold-blooded. Yet, even as I step out of the pool, I regret that sensation of breathless cold against my skin. That feeling of aliveness. Of I exist. Of I am. And I know the unutterable importance of that beingness. Has anyone else felt it? It is without boundaries. It is the sensation of oneness. That we are all bound up in a whorl of energy that has no beginning or end.


An example of a lack of boundaries: Our free-range, a.k.a. feral, chickens. They have no discretion as proven by the peeps, who are now adolescents. They have taken over the handicapped-accessible walkway to the porch. It is dotted with their poo. Mo, in particular, likes to hang out there as the enclosure gives echo to his crow.

Yes, once again, we have hims. Mo and Muff. Mo is the top dude and chasing the older hens who are, needless to say, pissed that their peace and quiet is once again being broken by some upstart trying to mount them in adolescent fashion: no foreplay whatsoever. Mo is more concerned with his own needs than the hens’ which, if you are paying attention at all, you will note is pervasive in the world today. Too few are willing to take the time to consider the other side.


Balance. Life requires balance. In our demo-n-capitalist society, balance has been gerrymandered away. Energy, in the form of money, has been used to upend democracy, creating an unnatural chaos, a seemingly bottomless vortex of anger and hate that masks a deep and unexplored fear. Unbearable sadness. The pain of rejected love and lost connection. We will have to face that pain, if we are to heal it. It is very ugly. Evil. As terrifying as it is terrified. But here we are at a confluence of tides: hate meeting compassion. Words meet action. Words are so much easier. After all, here I am on my little hill taking a dip in my piece of heaven, a regenerative lap pond. Easy for me to say march in peace, be. I am white. I’ve never known poverty. My present moment isn’t dangerous.

Granted, one never knows. There is a gun club near us here. People practicing their aim on human forms.

Would Jesus do that?



We know that Gandhi didn’t shoot guns, and I have wondered: in real life, as opposed to fiction, does good win over evil? Compassion and love over hate. There does seem to be a shift going on. We are in the midst of a nightmare but look how many people now are involved and active  against intolerance and hate who would not have been otherwise. The question being, will it be enough? Like so many totalitarian regimes, our current head of government doesn’t listen. Doesn’t care. He rolls forward unheeding, like an army tank over living beings. Individuals sacrifice for something bigger than any one person. Life snuffed. Is there still hope?

Rather like the eclipse. It was only a partial eclipse at Darwin’s View. Even so, it was unsettling to watch. Through the welder glasses that friends of ours brought, the sun was green. Had I been a youth, I would have announced, “It’s not the moon that is made of blue cheese but the sun!”

A bite in the sun, getting bigger and bigger, and mini eclipses scattered on the ground through the dappled light of trees.

We know the science of it, the physics, but what of its magic? The energy of so many people coming together to watch the power of Mother Nature. The moon calmly, steadily, inevitably covering the sun. Only for two hours. And then the sun came back . . . perhaps changed. I like to think so. I like to think that maybe the patriarchal norms that have ruled this society shifted, influenced by the moon’s energy and all the women who have been galvanized by the current situation. I like to think that maybe, just maybe, instead of destruction, we will begin to rebuild, using our humanity, not our greed and fear, as the foundation. I have to believe this because the alternative is as dark as if the sun had not come back.

Last week the eclipse.  Next week, a full moon. The tides rise. Especially in Texas.

The Stoner Dudes and Solar Eclipse

I’d like to introduce the Stone Dudes, Mo and Muff. Like their sisters—Squeaky, Sparrow, Black-Gold and Gold-Black—they were supposed to be girls. Enter reality.

The old hens—Ping, CooLots, Chickadee, Brownie and Apricot—look askance at the adolescents. Do these gawky, skitterish dudes really think . . . anything?

Before I get too far into the chicken kerfuffles up here at Darwin’s View, I’d like to say this: Welcome back! To me, too. I haven’t been here in a while. And recognize, too, that I have attempted to reset this blog a few times in the last three years. Today, though, is different. Today is special. On so many levels.

The Personal: As of yesterday, Carl and I are entirely moved out of Providence. The sale of the house there is pending . . . and all our stuff is here. Bulging at the seams. We have doubles of everything, and back ups of more. Our near future looks to be full of culling and letting go inside the house even as we weed and clear and plant outside. There will be no more looking back to Providence. We will focus on here, with intention!

We can hope, right?

The Societal: Interesting times, in a Chinese curse way, aren’t these? Having been an East European History major in college, I always thought it was odd that Russian touted itself as the communist thang under the pseudonym “The Soviet Union” when it made so much more sense for the United State of American, the true (sic) capitalist society to step up to the plate. After all, we had the real middle class, a working class that could be downtrodden and destroyed by the rich. And here we are! We’re a bit late to the game but we have our .01% of the rich having more wealth than the rest of the population combined, and pushing and clawing for more. Education has been removed in favor of fake news and social media that with a snap of a button can be shut down, thereby creating chaos which is what revolutions thrive on. Something is brewing out there.

The question being, will it be a revolution for, of and by the People, or a take-over by the oligarchy that currently runs things, known at this blog site as Demo-n-capitalist Bastards?

The World: To harken back to those naive days when I claimed to be at war against climate change, here we are! Admit it or not, climate change is happening. We humans destroyed the old world, decimating countless species, poisoning the skies and waters . . . but no need to go down that path. Let’s look on the bright side: we now live in the Anthropocene age, where nature is no longer part of the picture. These are human created times. Everything around us has been touched by us. Humans have infected—for lack of a better word—the world and to go forward in our existence on this planet, we now must figure out a way to survive as a species in this new world.

Does it matter if we don’t?

The Universe: Oh, sigh. Couldn’t it, we, be better? Couldn’t we, as a species, shift to a new way of being? One not based on destruction? Thinking of the billions of beavers killed for a hat, I wonder if there isn’t a way to co-exist with those little bastard groundhogs who eat our gardens, and wild horses who persist on eating the grasses reserved by us for our cattle. Is it necessary to kill off all the natural environment?

Of course! We have to feed ourselves. But it seems we aren’t doing a very good job of that. Millions of people are in the process of losing their homes as the oceans rise. Others as their soils turn to dust.

I know. It isn’t economic to save everyone. It might be an idea to educate them, though. A dirty little secret: If we educated women, in particular, they’d have fewer babies. In one generation, we could half the population. Which is currently burgeoning to unsustainable levels. And if we gave the poorer populations food and not bullets, there’s be less cause for war. If we cooperated and recognized that without each other, without nature’s web to sustain us . . .

It sounds touchy feely, doesn’t it? New agey to talk about cooperation and compassion and love, thereby ignoring the existence of hate and racism and greed.

But why not? We have to start somewhere. We are in the midst of a crisis that the opioid crisis manifests. We have a civil war fomenting in our selves and on all levels of self.  How heal? When?

Today there will be a solar eclipse. The moon will shade the sun, giving it a well deserved break. Being the sun–and oh so masculine–must be fraught. I will be watching our chickens for their reaction. And the cats, too. Where we live it will only be a partial eclipse but I’m still holding to the possibility that maybe  this brief, mid-day dusk will herald a dawning.

It will. For me, anyway. Have you noted? I haven’t given up yet. I am back, again, and again hitting the reset button in hopes of starting, for me if no one else, a new age of beingness, compassion and creation. I believe that, however vile humans might appear to be, yet we have an even greater capacity to love. So long as we try. Again and again. We cannot give up. If we do, it would cost us our humanity.

I’m gonna be like this Stoner Dude. Mo has been practicing his crow for a couple of weeks now. He’s getting better. Granted, he’ll never be Big Red. Just as the world will never be what it once was, with Dodo birds and Giant Sloths. But it might be something else. Something quite beautiful, if intangible: a world in which humans are their better selves, entirely conscious, aware of the great beauty around them, and caring for it, tending it, being.

My Goals for the End of April, in Preparation for May


On Saturday, today, attend the People’s Climate Mobilization March in Keene, thereby combining relative Climate Action with errands, thereby lowering carbon footprint by not driving to Concord or Boston, thereby alleviating sense of “Is this enough?” with reality of daily life.

Print out “No Ban. No Walls. No Raid.” signs to be put up at our house in Providence.

Spread POV (peas, oats, vetch) seed.

Stir and spread BD preps.

Host Apple tree grafting party with Ben Watson at Darwin’s View.

Jump start blog.

And clean up basement in anticipation of the extreme organizing because here is my May goal: Sell our house in Providence.

Yes, we are putting our Providence house on the market, hopefully by May 12th.

OMG. However do that?


Go step by step.

Rememember this: loss happens. Letting go. Change. Every minute of the day, there is change. Today. Now. It is a beautiful day here at Darwin’s View. The clouds this morning looked like glowing, puffy gray pillows. Mist on the hills. Tom Turkeys gobbling. Barn swallows swooping. Chickens cackling. The trees are as amazing in spring as in the fall with their variety of greens. Carl’s peach trees are covered with buds. (Not bugs!) The clouds are now a haze that allows the sun to warm the backs of the browsing turkeys.

May 1: Drive to Providence to put up “No Ban. No Walls. No Raid.” signs. Meet with real estate agents and staging consultant. Greet the 15 yard dumpster. Remind Carl to go to his 2PM dentist appointment. Prepare to pack.

May 1-4: Rip out our raised beds. Pluck the iris out of the ground. Roll sod. Mulch.

Pack. Preferably not everything. There is no room for everything at Darwin’s View.

Contemplate the consequences of my choices. Badabing! Done.

But first a march and rally to keep the bigger picture in mind: that we must each, individually, act now, in however big or small a way, to change our habits for the good of the environment. Each and every one of our choices matter. How we get from point A to B. What we eat. How we relate to one another: with compassion or hate.

The words “trump” and “nasty” have been forever ruined for me.

By May 12: Assist Carl in building Chicken Coop 10 for the chicks that are supposed to be pullets but one of the buff polish chicks has a head top that looks remarkably like a mohawk, not a muffin top. His sister (I hope) has more of a muffin top than a mohawk. Thus their names, tentatively, Muff and Moe. And all of these chicks, frankly, have “stand up and look at me” attitudes a la cockerels.

That would just be bad luck to pick six sexed chicks and have them all be boys.

Two trips to NYC.

. . . and move out of Providence.

Even if I move, it exists in my heart. And I imagine what it must be like for refugees. How awful to be forced to leave home, lives in danger. Hunger, thirst, fear. Great fear opposing their longing for home. The unfamiliarity of here. The necessity of enduring, living, loving.

Loving is so much better than hating, giving so much more fulfilling than clinging.

But this is just a rough list. No times to deepen or truly think. It’s time to rally, to march.

Silver-Lining Anyone?

Every day, the world breaks my heart. The destruction of the environment. The horrors of factory farms. The rending of our social fabric by alienation, disrespect and deceit. Every day, I fail to live up to my hopes. My war against climate change, declared so quixotically back in March of 2013, has come to naught. Ditto my quest to save democracy. If anything, both are worse off than when I began.

Maybe I aimed too high. As more than one person has told me, one person can’t change the world.

. . . An arguable point. Think Hitler. Think Mahatma Gandhi. Going forward, think Vandana Shiva and Bill Mollison. Going backwards, think Orange Julius.

Orange Juliu is assaulting our rights, insulting our citizens, spewing hate and greed, casting aspersions on truth and holding the flag of deception high and proud, all the while ignoring the no longer hypothetical warming of the planet.  Orange Julius and his diabolic appointees exude that gross ethos that has evolved in certain strata of America. Not that around Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness but around money. Moneymoneymoneymoneymoney gives meaning and purpose to life. And if you don’t have enough of it—and there is never enough—you will be crushed. Thus, those with it grasp, in terror, for more, and We, The People are in a “crossfire chicken wing”—one of the top ten best wrestling holds used to bring the enemy to its knees.

The enemy, apparently, is us.

The good news? Our infantilization is over.  Orange Julius has wiped the vernix from our eyes. It is now perfectly clear what We, The People are up against: Demo-n-Capitalism. Like  Orange Julius, it doesn’t care about right or wrong. It has the power and will do anything, anything at all, to keep it.

More good news: Had HRC won—which she did but who’s counting? And had she been the one inaugurated today, We, The People would have continued as we were. We would have popped some GMO’ed popcorn and settled in for another four years of Republican rabidity, searching for something, anything, that would stick against the Clintons that the Republicans were not, themselves, guilty of. We would have continued to watch the lowering baseline of our environment, our economy, our politics and our humanity. In short, we would have maintained the entirely unsustainable status quo.

Instead? We have a choice: Door number one, change and sacrifice in the name of a greater good, or door number two, wait for someone to save us, with that someone not being anywhere in sight.

Four years ago, in a baby step way and not really aware of the extent of the consequences, I chose a prototype to door number one. I moved to Darwin’s View. Here, I am looking deep, trying to find my heart’s purpose and how I might fulfill what potential is me.

Each of us has that: potential, a heart’s purpose.

This Tory is a liberal, and proud to be. And I have never had my life, liberty and happiness threatened as deeply as it is today. I am not black nor brown. I am not poor. I speak English with an occasion dip into a rebel Rhode Island twang or a New Hampshire drawl. But, as are so many black, brown, poor, non-native speaking people living in this country, I am an American. I might not be proud of what my country has done in the name of progress and oil and money but I am proud of what this country might become—will become if We, The People look deep and find how we each might act out our life’s purpose, and help others to do the same.

The best news of all: Today, the inauguration of  Orange Julius, is a 9/11 moment. People all around the world are marching with us against misogyny, sexism, racism, zealotry, ignorance, and for the planet. We are not alone if we choose not to be. We are not alienated unless we opt not to see how connected we are to each other and to this beautiful planet. It has taken decades for us to get to this point of change. It’s a personal choice how we each will act. To march or not. To fight—literally or figuratively—or not. But this need not be a lonely work.

To save the world and its soils and water and sentient creatures, to save our democracy and the freedoms we hold dear, is actually very simple, if a challenge to implement. We have the tools to heal and the power to shift from greed, domination and consumerism to compassion, equality and sustainability. Think local. Think community. Think solar eclipse. The moon, feminine, covering, calming, nurturing the sun, masculine in the midst of a two year olds tantrum of mememememoney. The mother asking us to listen, not the father requiring us to submit.

My baby steps.

For the past week, I have been calling my senators and representatives, speaking of my outrage at  Orange Julius’s nominees. If nothing else, I now have a rapport with the folks who answer the phones. This will become a dialogue. I will learn from it.

This morning, I was disappointed in myself. I didn’t have the courage to go by myself to march anywhere. And then I spoke with a friend and tomorrow, she and her husband and Carl and I are going to Concord to march. And we will meet up with this friend’s friends and now, instead of judging my limitations, I am excited to be with people, meet people, maybe even volunteer to help.

And soon, I will plant seeds in soil, and Carl and I will begin to implement what we have been  preparing, in our ad hoc way, for four years. The way forward. I come back to Vandana Shiva and seeds, and to Bill Mollison and permaculture.

Is that my path?

I don’t know. But I do know this: Our democracy, our planet and we are in grave danger. Our government doesn’t care. Each day we each must choose and every one of those choices matter.


IMG_4328It’s been too long. Like Nick, I’ve been in a box called Writer’s Block. But I just finished draft 5 of my next book, and now have time to restart my blog . . .  with this message, a tag on to my war against Anthropogenic Climate Disruption, previously referred to as Climate Change and Global Warming, all of which are currently present in this Primary Season.

No, not our ducks. But someday. . . ?

Have you heard the joke about the guy who wanted to win the lottery? Every week, he’d pray to win. Not only that, but he explained to his god why he should win. It was not just for himself, after all, that he wanted the money. No! After he paid off his mortgage and paid off his kids’ college loan debts, he planned to start a life of philanthropy. He’d give away all the money he won so that others could have education, food and shelter, fresh water.

He prayed so hard. Purely. Selflessly. Weeks and months went by. He could hardly believe how fervently a person could pray and yet not get what he hoped for. Finally, he said as much to God. He said, “God, why won’t you let me win?”

A tremendous BANG! Flashes of lightening. And God’s fiery voice.

“I’d let you win but you have to buy a damned lottery ticket!”

A winning lottery is remarkably like voting. If you don’t buy the lottery ticket, or vote, the likelihood of things working out the way you hope is nonexistent. You’re leaving it to everyone else to take up the flag, to remember all the women, the blacks, the principled who suffered and fought for the right to vote in this country. They knew what life was like without that right. In fact, they knew it was worth dying for.

Republicans and the Righteous Right know this joke. They know that, in fact, their vote matters because when people vote, things can change. For the better or worse, depending on your beliefs. Thus they come out in droves, even through rain and snow, to exercise their right to vote.

Democrats seem to think like the guy in the joke. They think that good things will just happen. Things will work out.

Or why bother. My vote doesn’t signify.


I would suggest that if you think your vote doesn’t matter, you might try to make it matter. If you think the elections are rigged, get out and protest and/or call your representatives. And if you think it’s too late? Almost, but not quite.

This election has the potential to be a debacle (Drumpf), more of the same (Clinton) or a triumph (Sanders). I believe it will usher in the end of democracy—and thereby the world as we know it—or a new beginning.

IF we vote in the primaries. IF we vote in our Local and National elections. IF even after the elections, we stay involved at a local level and begin to pay attention and support the change we have voted for. Only then do we have a hope for a better, fairer world, and a chance against Anthropogenic Climate Disruption.

In short, Democrats, you have a choice: get out and vote. Or stay home, eat bonbons, and pray.

And if you want to hear why I support Sanders, not Hillary, drop me a line. I’m happy to discuss it.


NANO & Big Red!


Steep slope of Mount Monadnock.
Steep slope of Mount Monadnock.

I have come up with an idea to combat my writer’s block: NaNoWriMo! November is National Novel Writing Month and I have taken the past three weeks off from my nonfiction book on . . . . well, I don’t know what it’s about. That’s what I’ve been seeking: the story. And, after three plus months of flailing about for said story without success, I thought I’d veer off back to fiction and work on the novel that has been percolating in the background for three years: Mother Daze. It is the story of Eloise Fletcher (what do you think of the name?) and her hopes to save the world and her sick mother (Victoria Forrester, widow of Graham Forrester. Why are surname different? Eloise married Arthur Fletcher. I know this because I wrote a story in my twenties called “Love Chapel”. Although her name was Cody in that story, it was/is Eloise’s story. At least it is today. Who knows what will happen in the next weeks. . . .)

All to say, I have spent my days outlining Mother Daze. What fun! To make things up. Trying to braid the different threads—all three, maybe four, of them — together and ever aware of how much I like to complicate things. The book takes place in 2012-2013. In Providence. I get to remember the blizzards called Juno and Nemo. That warm December 22nd in New York City when the temperature reached seventy degrees. All and none of which might be relevant but it’s fun to toss the information into the puzzle.

I only mention any of this because I need encouragement. To write 50,000 words in one month is a snap. To have them tell a story isn’t so easy. And to write that 50,000 word story in the month of November which, in case you have forgotten, includes the lift off of the holiday season?IMG_8604 It will be a challenge and one I do not take lightly. I am going to do this. Carl has been warned: I’m upping my hours in the office. I will rise at 6AM at the latest every morning. . . .

I practiced today. 4:10AM and I was up and at ’em. Streeeeeeetching. Petting Nick while he enjoyed his early morning nip of butter. I enjoyed my morning cafe latte . . . and a sweet treat called a Dirt Bomb, what I have always known as Frenchies, which are mini-muffins drenched in butter and rolled in sugar; truth be told, mine are better than the ones I bought yesterday but who has time to make Frenchies when she has a novel to prepare?

Up at 6AM. I will not answer the phone. Unless it looks important. The cats will be banned from my office. Unless they meow too persistently. I will be focussed. Heartless with my time as I attempt to write my heartbreak.

Ironic, isn’t it? Both my books hold the same theme: to save the world from its budding hell of mass species extinctions, arctic cold in all the wrong places, deathly heat and no rain, and pending winter winds that will likely give both our roos frostbite.

IMG_4040YES! We have two cocks here at Darwin’s View: Big Red yet lives and Little Big Man is strutting about, if with a piece of hay caught unceremoniously in his throat. I actually had a moment with him last night. He looked so ridiculous, shaking his head in an attempt to get the dratted eight-inch piece of hay to come out of his mouth. It was dusk. For his entire two months of life here, I have respected his boundaries and not tried to catch him. Last night, I made an exception, with the result being he raced out of the coop, crowing unmentionable insults at me. With all the compassion I could muster for the little guy, I followed him in a loop around the chicken area and back into the coop where I eventually caught him. The hay remained. I pulled. It lengthened, then caught. Past memories: if a thread is stuck in a cat’s mouth and has trouble being pulled out, do not pull! It will rip out the intestines.

Unhappy thought. I got a pair of scissors out and clipped.  Hopefully, he will manage to digest the rest today.

But I digress. “Big Red yet lives,” I said. What!? you might ask. Was he in danger?

A long and weary story but yes. He is not the Big Red of yore. A skinny runt of a roo he is these days. He crows two or three times in the morning and is done for the day, leaving the yeoman’s task of threats to the wind and rain to the pathetic, cartoon character crow of Little Big Man. Big Red, meantime, lies in the coop. Occasionally, he gets up to limp his way to the door and look out over his hens who maybe aren’t his hens anymore. They keep him company. There is always at least one hen hanging out with him. Bu,t though I have seen the hens practically beg for him to jump aboard, squatting down in front of him, he sighs and looks away. Faces the wall. Squats, too.

Impossible thought, isn’t it? The tough, randy roo begging off his duties. How could it be true?

Worms. After a trip to the vet, and two weeks of Vitamin Drench, I finally got a sample —trust me, egg collection is far more enjoyable than matters fecal—to the vet who found worm eggs. And this morning, Carl found some really skinny worms on the poop board. Two conclusions: one, Big Red has gape worm, thus he has been opening his mouth and bending back his head, trying to swallow past those nasty bastards in his throat. And two, all of the hens need to be treated.

Natural treatments? Cayenne pepper has been suggested. Chickens don’t mind it and the worms go out the back way. The vet sounded dubious. Use the real stuff. Go for the gusto. Wazine.

The problem being, google says Wazine doesn’t kill gape worm–assuming I have prognosticated him correctly. In any case, de-worming is a priority here at Darwin’s View if Big Red is going to make it through the winter; he needs to gain some weight.

Some might suggest this would be an auspicious outcome, given I have spent the last almost three years whining about how it is Big Red’s fault that we are up here at Darwin’s View, he being banned from Providence. But in the past month, as he has become an old man limping across the driveway, getting thinner and more gaunt, unable to crow, I realize what a wonderful rooster he has been. A boisterous crow. And he is, relatively, a very nice rooster. If he has chased you, it’s only because he had a job to do—and who knows what kind of roo Little Big Man is going to become. A beauty, yes but will he be nice?

For the record, the above is 1,168 words. That is six hundred words short of what I have to write every day of November to reach the 50,000 word goal. It is doable but I wonder: I will be posting on facebook and here on my blog my daily word count. Because at some level, it is about accountability and knowing that others are out there, rooting me on. Will you? I hope so. Because both Eloise and I have a great task ahead of us this next month: to save the world, her mother . . . and, in the end, herself; and to write a great story.

Meantime, come to a reading of the “Varied Paths to Publication: Women of a Certain Age and Attitude Book Tour”! We are at The Toadstool Bookshop this Saturday, October 31—Halloween!—at 2PM. And at Books on the Square in Providence November 7th at 4PM.

Toot!  Toot!


The Varied Paths to Publication Book Tour & Its Consequences!

IMG_3943Jaffrey to Hartford to Jaffrey to Providence to Stonington—twice—to New York City to Providence to Jaffrey to Saratoga Springs to Jaffrey (and up Mount Monadnock to celebrate our 25th Anniversary!) to Burlington, VT to Randolph, VT to South Burlington, VT. to Jaffrey to Providence to New York to Providence (Happy Birthday to me!) to Boston to Providence where I type now. In one month and one week. 2214 miles. 41 hours and five minutes of  movement over the course of 36 days. Which equals 61.5 miles a day at 54 miles per hour. Thank goodness for calculators and thank goodness it’s over. We had a great time but my soul is huffing to catch up. Even Carl got a bit confused when we were leaving Boston the other night post a Boston Community Capital celebration: as we approached the entry to Route 93, he had a moment: where were we going? North or South?

Between family commitments and The Varied Paths to Publication Book Tour, our carbon footprint has been shocking this month. Too, I raised the heat in our Endless Pool in Providence from 50 to 86 so that I can use said pool, thereby exposing the fact that I am my own worst enemy in my war against climate change. Granted, the trips to New York were made by train, and once we got to a city, we stuck to walking but my feints at change have been as vexatious and quixotic as a regular American’s hope to find a drop of democracy in the tea party’s vitriol, or a vertebra of backbone in too many Democrats. But before I go too far down the Road of Rant, let’s return to the over two thousand miles Carl chauffeured me through in the past two weeks.

Varied Paths Tour

SaratogaSprings flyer 8.8.15 final JPEGIn Saratoga Springs, the Northshire Bookstore hosted Nina Gaby, Tammy Flanders Hetrick and Celine Keating and me. We had a great discussion with a small but interested audience. Yes! We had an audience though we knew only our spouses. It was, indeed, an auspicious beginning and fun way to get to know these three authors. I had read their books (Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women; Stella Rose and Play for Me, respectively) and it was quite wonderful to hear them read their books, and talk about writing, publishing and being women of a certain age and attitude. Which is the sub theme of the tour. I found it incredible and slightly intimidating to be with such energetic, cool women.

IMG_3789Back in Jaffrey, Carl and I did some amazing foraging and then climbed Mount Monadnock to celebrate our 25th if-you-can-believe-it anniversary. It was the first time Carl had climbed the White Dot and I saw him bristle when he had to pay to climb his mountain. But the five dollars goes to support the maintenance and oversight of the mountain and so, with that justification, we proceeded on a perilous, vertiginous climb.

IMG_3813May I just say, we aren’t as young as we used to be but we still know how to climb mountains: with each other to help!


IMG_3820 As we cheerfully commented after making it to the top: It’s all down hill from here! Via the White Cross trail, which was touted as less steep yet was more slippery and painful to the knees . . . but going down hill always is, isn’t it? Half way down, as I slipped on another slick rock, I had to wonder: why cross?

That weekend, we drove to Burlington for the Burlington Book Festival, and two Book Tour events, one in Randolph and one in South Burlington.

IMG_3884At the book fest, we had the pleasure of hearing David Macaulay, Paul Muldoon and Abigail Thomas speak. And of being interviewed by Lesley Nase for her radio show Books, Yarns and Tales.

IMG_3889 And onward to Randolph, where we ate fantastic cronuts (who needs NYC!) and drank decent espresso—who’d’a thunk!—at the Three Bean Cafe—and enjoyed a great gathering at the Art of Vermont Gallery. There we dug a bit deeper into our personal stories and I had the pleasure of meeting Alexis Paige, one of the contributors to Nina’s book and our special guest that day. And then we headed back up to South Burlington’s Barnes and Noble.

IMG_0984Ironies abound, don’t they? Years ago, I wrote a short story called “Chain Material” about a dastardly chain bookstore that, like an octopus had spread its tentacles. A chain rather like Barnes and Noble—which today is almost a local bookstore. Certainly this one supports authors and building community.

We drove home to the light of the moon which later that night eclipsed. We made it about a third of the way through before passing out.

IMG_3845The next morning, during a lull in our active driving schedule, I briefly faced the dilemma of our dapper Little Big Man. There is no mistaking his rooster-ish ways anymore and I keep thinking how this should not have happened. He was supposed to be a she. But I could say the same about Big Red, previously Rhoda Red, who is now three. It does make me a bit sick. Last year was so easy! We adopted the sex-link girls Brownie, Clownie and Downie. Yes, Opie, too. Who for all I know was a boy and was kind enough to die so I wouldn’t have to deal with another Roo. Just as did Little Big Man, Surprise and Exclamation’s brother who died four days after his arrival. Thoughtful boy. But really? I ordered auto sexed chicks. A no brainer. No mistakes possible! And still we received two boys. I appear to be irresponsible but really, I think these things through. Maybe stopping short of thinking it through to all possible consequences. But we now have two cocks and Big Red is being strangely obsequious. IMG_3869He’s sleeping on the coop floor. Leaving Little Big Man to get an ego.

All to say, we aren’t there. We are here. Again. Heading there shortly. And I have signed up at NaNo to write a novel next month. Even as I struggle to find a story for my soon to be trashed book that was supposed to save the world and now?

Writer’s block sucks.

IMG_3898Which leads me to suspect that all the movement might be having consequences I hadn’t anticipated. Or maybe, unconsciously, I did. Maybe I don’t want to find the story? Or write one? Maybe I’m supposed to be paying more attention to other things. Like my cats.

Final note: a new person that I met on the road wrote on his facebook page that he “was going to write like a motherfucker” last weekend. Excellent goal except. . . . has anyone read the definition of motherfucker recently?

So instead of wanting to write like a motherfucker—I know, it’s just a saying but my grandmother berated me once for using such language in my writing. There are better and more interesting phrases—next time I sit down to write I will hope to write like someone who has something true to say, and —most important—that I figure out a way to say it.

Writer’s Block & Electra

IMG_3590I am not writing. I’ve been blocked for weeks. That’s my excuse anyway because then it is within my power to overcome the block and write again. Far worse would be if it is a conspiracy of the swirling energy around me. The negative ones determined to prevent me from reaching my goal of writing a book that might save the world. A big goal? Yes. One that might have something to do with this wall I keep knocking my head against? Could be.

IMG_3589Three days ago, those negative energies had succeeded. I decided to dump the book I have been working for two years. It has, as one reader put it, everything but the kitchen sink. An off-grid memoir. An environmental eulogy. A political rant, and diatribe against our Demo-n-Captialist society. A chicken drama. Yes, this book was to have been a call to arms for an Attitude Change Time-ion (A.C.T.)

It was too hard. Hopeless. I decided to add the sink and throw in the towel. Who was I fooling, right? After all, too few people care enough. Those that do are overwhelmed. Not even the surge of Bernie could uplift spirits beaten down by the disappointment of Hope and Change. So what if our current president had prevented a global economic meltdown, passed healthcare reform, has lower gas prices and higher employment than seen in recent times. Obama is seen as a failure because that’s how Fox News will have him portrayed.

And then I read about the Bohemian club. Have you heard of it? Talk about Sickos. And those Sicko Homo satanicus-types run the world and so I decided to hell with it all. I was done. I would move on to the novel I have outlined in my mind. It has been percolating for the months and months I have been working on Darwin’s View One Breath After Midnight. How could I have ignored it for so long? Because at least in fiction I could control things.

Well. Except my subconscious and unconscious but that’s another conversation. Part of the below mentioned Varied Paths I am going to be walking this month. My point here being, maybe Eloise could save the world given if I can’t. Mother Daze has potential. All ideas do. And it is fresh and new. I could get fired up! and ready to go! and write again!

IMG_3499But this morning . . . I wasn’t settling in. I had been verging two days ago but yesterday we drove to a family memorial in Connecticut. And so my energy was disparate this morning. It takes two or three days for me to settle in again after a day away. We are going to be away a lot this next month or two. Driving the northeast for the “Varied Paths to Publication: Women of a Certain Age . . . and Attitude” tour I am participating in. And if we add on eight hours of road time/carbon footprint by going to the Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine?

Swirling energy and there are not three days together in one place in my near future. Not for about a month or two, so starting a new book? Really?

I bethought myself. How to settle one’s energy? MEDITATION. Of course. Deep breathing. So I stepped outside my office, set my timer for five minutes—I would be breaking a record if I managed to sit still for that long—and settled down on the solid, granite step. Grounded and grounding. I closed my eyes and Om. A noise. One eye opened. A humming bird in the sunflowers. How cute is that? I couldn’t see it clearly as I didn’t have on my glasses but I was mediating. Calm focus. Rustling to my left. In the garden. Had Brownie gotten into the vegetable garden again? She has figured out a way to leap over our electric fence and scrabble about in there. I peeked. There was definitely something over there. I attempted to ignore it but we still have plant life in the form of tomatoes and eggplant and swiss chard and none of it is ready to be uprooted by a chicken’s scratching. I decided I would free said chicken and return to meditation.

IMG_3594. . . Not a chicken. I yelled for Carl.

I don’t know why. That seems to be my reaction whenever something out of my comfort zone and particularly nature-ish happens. Train of thought: Nature . . . danger . . . who got me into this . . . CARL!! COME QUICK! PORCUPINE IN THE ELECTRIC FENCE.

This brought to mind our previous experience, years ago, with groundhogs also known as woodchucks and/or little bastards. They ate our first garden when we lived on Angell Street. Our beautiful cabbages gnawed on. I hired someone to catch and relocate said L.B.s. They never caught the groundhogs. They did capture two possums on two separate occasions, and I found out that they were not rehoming them.

IMG_3596All to say, I reached for the phone to call a humane society or an Animal rescue number while Carl approached, very carefully, our resident porcupine. Carl and I by now had reached the same conclusion: Sh**.

I brought Carl wire clippers. Lowered the fencing. He clipped the fencing. The porcupine panted in terror. His struggles only got him more enmeshed, his arm more fully tangled in the fencing.

For the record: porcupines are really cute. This is a full grown one but he has a pudgy little face. Very dark brown and soft looking. And the quills don’t look so terrible though both Carl and I maintained a very, very healthy respect for the ones on his tail. Porcupines are rather hedgehog-ish that way. Cuddly looking. Bringing to mind the phrase don’t judge a book by its cover.

It was emitting an odor of fear. I was grateful it wasn’t a skunk. It breathed heavily and it was not Bhasktrika pranayama yogic breath. I wished we knew porcupine language. Instead, we spoke human as soft and reassuring as we could.

You will have to take my word about the cuteness level. Though I had my camera in hand, I didn’t take photos because I thought it would be irresponsible to be taking photos while Carl tried to free the porcupine. Instead of photos, I got a blanket and placed it between Carl’s bare arm and the porcupine’s tail. I found a useless pair of garden clippers. And shooed the chickens—who were all excited! by the excitement! and raced in our direction! to see what was going on!—back into the coop. Where Little Big Man raced about and then out. All the others were in but he was out and so I was chasing him while Carl continued to wrestle with the fencing.

And the porcupine struggled, his left arm entirely wrapped up in the fencing material. If we had been able to hold onto him for a half hour and gently untangle him . . . which was clearly not going to happen.

IMG_3598IMG_0723That was the morning’s dither. The fence is down and fairly well wrecked. Electra, the porcupine, is exhausted and hiding under our deck, his/her left arm tightly wrapped in fencing. I worry if s/he will be okay as I begin to pack up my office. Because my writing day is over. It is time for other projects and more travels. Instead of debating which book to focus on, I contemplate priorities, and how close I was to a porcupine and what photos I might have taken if only I had opted for photography instead of  moral support and an apprenticeship in toreador-ism with a green wool blanket. Next time, will I opt for the camera, only to capture Carl attacked by a rabid skunk?

The only other news from Darwin’s View is that Little Big Man is testing his vocal chords. Both Carl and I heard a stranger noise earlier this morning. Ironically, we thought it was an anonymous porcupine. I looked out to the coop, thinking perhaps a hawk had once again landed on the bench in the run. There was Little Big Man, stretching his neck, lifting his head. Ra-row-a-doodle.

IMG_3602Big Red’s crow is boisterous relatively. Big Red is still three times Little Big Man’s size. And Little Big Man is beautiful, reminiscent of Cornelius two summers ago . . .

Two summers? Is it already so long ago? I was supposed to have finished my book by now. Instead?

Electra. Chickens and hawks. Gardens and forests. Travels. Sunrise to sunset, life happens. Just like that.


Daytime Television Damnation

IMG_0234Far be it from me to judge anyone who decides to dress up like a chicken and go on national television, there to jump up and down and scream along with an entire audience of other people doing the same. I’m a chicken lover. I should be thrilled by this expression of chicken worship. But I suspect these folks also eat chicken wings during sports events and thereby support the torture of chickens in factory farms; and believe that choosing door number one, two or three is more important than voting. Thus, I judge, and avoid daytime television.

But this past week, Continue reading Daytime Television Damnation