the whole wide world

so yesterday morning
i had a dream that is a reoccurring theme for me
the dream has me
desperately
trying to reconcile with dusty
desperate
to be with him again
so i spent yesterday
pissy
& wondering
does my subconscious really really?
want me to reunite with dusty?
really?
& i guess my subconscious was listening
because this morning
i had the same dream
but with a different ex
desperate
again
to reunite
to be in love
happily ever after
now i know it’s not dusty
my subconscious is messaging me about
but i am still in the dark
is it as simple as my own desperation
to be loved?
to be happily ever after?
or does it go deeper….

i’m not getting art done. the minions are crazy, & i am crazier. i need to get art done. because, well, deadlines…and because it is something that keeps me sane….

but late summer is acting like fall and i have bees to get ready…goats to find a stud for…lambs & turkeys to butcher…winter gardens to plan…chicks being born and deserted by their fickle mama hens…

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i did get around to signing up as a place for travelers to come & help out. i am on helpx and on wwoof. today a couple of girls contacted me about hanging out here in september.
did you know that not only can i feel like an imposter as an artist, but also can i do so as a homesteader?
i’m all like–is my homestead actually a homestead? are they going to be disappointed in my homestead? like take one look and go–you call this a homestead???

aw fuck.

relationships, art, writing, motherhood, and homesteads…it’s all one experiment in rejection….

speaking of, a work of creative non-fiction i submitted to a magazine that was doing a theme that screamed of my story, rejected my story before the email submission had even cooled…and i cried…and then felt like an idiot for crying when there are people losing their homes to fire, flood, and fascism….
but it still hurt.

ps. if anyone is good at dream interpretation & wants to take a crack at my dream, please do so!

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my cat curse

as i seek balance
a little of yin
a little of yang
i find that my life
is a braid
not a teeter totter
bits of me
winding together
into a tapestry
making me beautiful
& bringing me peace

have i told you about my cat curse? it is a sad story. i am cursed so that if there is a kitten to be found–i will find it…and for some reason…it is usually a brown tabby of some sort.

but that isn’t the sad part.

midnight was my first cat. as you can guess, he was a black cat. i got him as a kitten when i was eight? nine? my sister adopted his brother, tiger, a brown tabby. tiger died before he could grow up. he was slammed in a car door. one of my early (but not my earliest) pet traumas.
but i digress.
midnight grew up to be a massive tomcat. being country people, my folks did not neuter him or let him in the house. he was always coming home with bits & parts of him missing from fighting, and i loved him fiercely.
one day my baby brother was given a pet rabbit. one day my older sister put the rabbit on the deck in a cardboard box.
midnight did what came naturally to a big–never a housecat–tomcat who finds a prey animal in a cardboard box outside. he broke nester the long-eared rabbit’s neck.
my dad promptly, and with a smile, shot my cat.

salem was my next attempt to love a cat. he was black also. i got him from a pet store when i was barely old enough to be a grown up. he came complete with an upper respiratory infection. his sickness repelled me in that i could see his mortality…and i failed to bond with him. i found him a new home.

sylvia was a black kitten given to me by my ex-boyfriend when i asked him if i could cat-sit his brown tabby, mishka,  while he went to study abroad in russia. i didn’t want a real cat. i wanted a temporary cat. sylvia was adopted by my roommate.

then i started finding kittens–or were they finding me?

jack was a brown tabby kitten i found while i was visiting home in illinois and walking country roads. he followed me all the way home. i took him to the vet to get shots, and he mauled the vet who then told me, “this will never be a pet cat.”
i never returned to that vet, and i was able to find jack a home with my sister & her husband where he lived to be an old cat.

gruesome was a brown tabby kitten i found in northern kentucky where i was squatting with my redneck boyfriend. gruesome had the upper respiratory infection that many cats get–he was crusty & snotty &, well, gruesome. i reluctantly agreed to my horrible, awful boyfriend’s proposal that we should just put him out of my misery. then i changed my mind & decided that i would take gruesome & leave my boyfriend…but i was too late.

gomez was a brown tabby kitten i found in downtown lexington kentucky. when i took him to a vet, i found out he had feline AIDS and could not be around other cats. i thought, “perfect, then i cannot adopt another cat.” and i took him in & my dog loved him and then one day the neighbor’s dog burst into my apartment and chased gomez away. i never found him again.

maude was a one year old torti-tabby i found in athens, georgia when i was taking my girls from the at-risk shelter to visit the animal shelter. we were going to go to the dog shelter, but one of my girls had the wrong shoes on–so we went to the cat shelter and i fell in love with this beautiful cat named “moonshine” and ended up adopting her and changing her name to maude. things were going well with maude until…

lola, a torti-tabby kitten, and  her brother came running up to me in my backyard in rural georgia. lola matched maude, so i thought it was kismit. however, maude had been surrendered after having a litter of kittens that her owners kept–deciding to get rid of maude instead. needless to say, maude hated kittens. she began over-eating and pooping everywhere and i spent a lot of money to save her, but my bond with her was disrupted (as i am unable to bond when i think i might lose someone–it’s in another post about my dead turkey….) and lola was a bit of a jerk–so i never really bonded with her either. i did keep both of them for many years before lola was surrendered to the humane society because i was afraid she would bite the kids…and maude ended up at my mother-in-law’s house where she died naturally.

at some point when i was in georgia–someone i knew found a pair of neonatal kittens and didn’t know what to do. being one of those people who volunteers to do things when no one else will–i took on the kittens and learned how to care for neonatals. they were later adopted once they were old enough.

in wisconsin, working at a humane society, it was discovered that i knew how to care for neonatal kittens, and being that no one else was very willing to take on this task, i started taking care of litters of kittens that came in. i figured it worked for me because i am one of the few people in the world that kittens have power over, and i would gladly give them back to the humane society once they were old enough to be adopted. then came…

moose who was a brown tabby kitten…maybe one week old? (she was so named because i was also fostering a squirrel baby at the time–get it? moose & squirrel?) she was a singleton and the humane society usually just euthanized singletons because they used up the time of volunteers who could be caring for an entire litter, but it was no longer kitten season and i had no other litters to raise. so i agreed to take her on.
another reason singletons are risky is due to the fact that not having litter-mates & a mama to learn manners from, they can turn into violent, little jerks. moose, at six weeks, started showing the personality of psychopath kitty. i had maude & lola…and my huband had a beige tabby named max…but i knew that if i returned moose to the humane society and she bit someone, she would be euthanized. so i adopted her. she was always good with us–only biting company–and remains my favorite ever cat, but after i started having kids, i started to worry. then one day maude had a stroke, and after that moose got even more squirrelly. i was able to place her with “friends of ferals” recognizing that she did not want to be an indoor cat and that she was half-wild.

pepper is a brown tabby me & the kids adopted from the humane society in wisconsin when we lived somewhere where the only allowed pet was a cat and my kids were going insane about wanting a dog. pepper’s shelter name was “talisman.” he is wonderful with kids and still lives with us, but i still struggle with the whole having a cat reality. he has become more of fidgit’s cat than anyone else.

then we came back to rural illinois–stray cat central. both springs we have been here, i have been taking the kittens of a feral calico into the humane society (yes, i know, i need to trap her & get her spayed–it is on my to-do list.)  this spring i even had to use my neonatal skills when we found one of the kittens too soon. i thought i was in the clear for the rest of the year…but then, driving down the road while dusty was visiting, i spotted a kitten. we passed it and ran errands as usual and then driving home, dusty slowed down.”
“are you looking for the kitten?” i asked jokingly.
he was not–he just drives slow sometimes.
“well, there it is,” i said, spotting an 8 week old kitten, brown tabby of course, hanging out on the side of a country road.
dusty, a cat person, stopped.
i got out, and the kitten meowed & ran up to me. little fucker seemed to know me…so as i write this, he sits on my lap. sleeping. watery eyes as he fights off an upper respiratory infection and he is not using a litter box–pooping everywhere–because he is a wild baby who has never seen a litter box and i do not have the money for another pet or for vet bills and it is just a bad bad bad idea…yet somehow i cannot bring myself to drop him at the humane society as i have every other kitten i have found here (seriously, they probably spot me coming & know i have kittens for them)….

am i ready, universe? am i ready to accept this talisman and to let the wounds heal? the betrayals i have felt by my pets when they have turned out to be…mortal & flawed? the deep anger i have at myself for my own human flaws and inabilities to love and be a good person?

am i ready now?

homesteading artist mama

i call this poem:
stream of consciousness while trying to sneak a few more minutes of sleep before getting up & conquering the world

why do we have political parties?
why do we have nations?
why do we have so much division?
why not invite peoples
who live in scary parts of the world
to migrate somewhere safer?
& we can say, “welcome!
here’s a cake i baked for you!”
were things this bad
when our cultures were
matriarchal?
or did the great
mother-goddess
just say,
“knock it off!
you & your brother can either
work things out
or
clean out the chicken coop
together.”

i am not getting any art done. i did this rooster doodle in the homesteading journal i have started, and that is the closest to art i have gotten in awhile.

every day i stare at the art that waits on my desk for me to finish it…

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but inspiration escapes me.

my minions are going to be with dusty this next week…so maybe i will get something done. i hope to get something done. i have ordered some movies from the library so i will have a distraction. the art part of my brain works better if some of the other parts are distracted. movies & tv are good for me to do art to.

meanwhile, my garden is growing. my bees are buzzing. my goats are providing me some much needed therapy.

and my brain idles…kind of on auto-pilot.
pulling weeds
feeding poultry
correcting minion behavior
each day
somehow surviving….

(this is quite possibly my most boring post ever. is it that i need sleep–or inspiration? or am i at peace and peace is just…well, boring. wait, is this peace–or defeat?  i don’t know if i would know if i were at peace or not having never actually been there. would it be like niagara falls where–duh, obviously you are there…or is peace more subtle? i just feel kind of…blah. if you have read this far without wandering off–kudos!–you are more focused than i am…oh! it’s my song–gotta dance.)

death of a turkey…

when i was a kid
there was so much violence
so much abuse
so much animal death
my pets gone–just like that
that i learned to disconnect
to stop loving
to stop caring
to stop bonding
and as an adult this continued
this disconnect
i had trouble with relationships
sure that they would leave
or god forbid they had self-destructive tendencies
it was too much for me
i disconnected
i could not bond
and i would try to have pets as an adult
but it was easier to hate them then to love them
love is a fragile thing
so easily killed
i was repulsed by neediness…repulsed by being needed
i closed down
shut off
i often wondered if i could ever even have kids?
was i capable of love at all?
sometimes i still wonder….

shortly after the above picture was taken, a raccoon killed one of my turkeys and injured the leg of another. i named the injured turkey isabeau and took her into my house. i dressed her wound, fed her blue berries and honey and put apple cider vinegar in her water and bathed her when she got too stinky.
months went on. spring turned to summer. her leg healed, but she stopped walking. her non-injured leg became palsied. one wing became disfigured by her always laying on the same side. i would try to put her on her other side–or in a sling–but nothing seemed to help.
and while her brothers & sisters grew huge and mature

she remained frozen in her juvenile state, a third the size of them.

i felt myself turn off. i mean, i cannot pinpoint the exact moment, but it happened. i started being annoyed by her. frustrated with her. dreaming at night that she finally got up and walked again, while watching every day as she just kind of flopped around. i admired her perseverance…but in the end, she just gave up.

i just wish i hadn’t given up first.

i thought i would be relieved when she died. she had become a burden…a difficulty…one more thing to take care of on a busy day. i mean, i knew she would die eventually. there was no way she could continue on like that–what if she tried to lay an egg–that alone would kill her–painfully. she was so vulnerable….
and now she is no longer suffering….

so why do i feel like i failed her? because my heart shut down? because i could no longer muster the energy to care about her even though i was still caring for her?

i don’t like that i learned to shut down when there was danger of pain by abandonment (be it death or whatever.) i want to feel the pain & live through it. i want my heart to warm back up and not be so quick to disappear.

i cried today. i did not expect to cry over my dead turkey.
but, like most mourners, i am not crying for her…i am crying for me.
as i try to assure my kids we did everything we could for her…in my cold heart i feel as if i should have done more…i wish i were capable of having done more.

 

don’t let the crazy leak out

don’t let the crazy leak out
hold in
breathe in
keep it in
don’t let the crazy out
don’t show your hand too soon
get under his skin
become a rash
he doesn’t know he has
an itch he just has to scratch
be charming
drop those red flags
like dainty, lace handkerchiefs
that he will pick up
and find endearing
before he realizes what they are
and then it is too late
he’s stuck with you
voila
love.

so, when i think about starting a relationship, i am like elsa in frozen. (for those of you who don’t have princess-loving children, that is a disney movie loosely based on hans christen anderson’s story “the snow queen.”) when she is trying to hide her strangeness, she feels she has to hold it in–but once she flees society she feels she can be whoever she wants to be.

yeah.

that’s me with relationships. dainty red neurotic flags…oops, did i drop that?

so even though i have been determined to marry my homestead & live happily ever after without a man in my life, i found myself cruising “plenty of fish” and online shopping for a relationship…again.
i didn’t expect to find anything. it was mostly restless energy & hormones. longing for an adult conversation.
i don’t know if i have found anything, but my heart is doing that stupid fluttery thing. wow. i haven’t felt that for awhile.
but he’s too perfect. too pretty. so i am bound to fuck it up.
wait.
stop.
don’t think like that.
be positive.
i am a precious jewel. i am a fascinating creature. i am strong & beautiful woman. i am intelligent & creative & just super fucking awesome…i am worth the trouble….

he says he’s an empath. he seems–dare i say it–relatively sane?

so i will fuck it up.
(no no no. not there again.)

i was “chatting” with some other guy who was all like, “you seem like a catch. why are you single?” and i responded, in typical em style, “oh no. i’m difficult. & strange.” yup. never heard from that guy again.

no one gets me.

but what if this one does? ah crap. i need to check my bee hives. build a new chicken coop. do laundry. muck a sheep stall…what am i thinking?

(ps. i gave up on my idea of cultivating mushrooms when i realized you have to have a clean–super clean–house to do it in. i was all like, “sign from the universe, you are meant to forage for mushrooms!” ha!)

spring garden

my spring garden
my spring garden keeps me from getting any art done
i am so tired by the end of every day
it feels like i never sit still
i go to do one thing,
and i do three other things on my way
because
well
they have to be done.

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so my inkings are few & far between as i am overwhelmed with garden, livestock, a yard to tend, a house to keep clean-ish, four kids to feed & care for….
spring is a busy time.

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now i have to focus all my art on finishing a project
i agreed to illustrate
i am excited about it. yet my sketchbook eludes me.
i think about working on it all the time
but i need to sit & actually put pen to paper.
i need to be sketching the characters ever day
to get familiar with their faces…

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i also need to learn to cultivate mushrooms, grow herbs for health, become more confidant about checking my bee hives, build a bigger house for my ever expanding poultry, and learn more about goats (i’m getting goats next!)

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homesteading
alone
with four kids
is just non-stop

attack of the buttheads

i started writing this post a couple of weeks ago.  unbeknownst to me, dusty started reading it over my shoulder & got all pissed off.  you know, instead of initiating a conversation about it, just got pissed off & hateful towards me.  so i stopped writing it & haven’t felt like trying to write ever since.  last friday, i made dusty leave again.  go back to wisconsin.  again.  & i realized i would rather be alone than to be put in a box.  i would rather be alone than to be told who i am.  i would rather be alone than to not be heard.  to not be understood.

i don’t know if he reads my blog or not….i guess i will find out.

what do you do
when the one person
you always want to tell your thoughts to
funny stories
what happened today
just now
what happens when you no longer
feel safe
talking to that person?
when you feel it might be a bad idea
to open up
to that person?
what happens when the person
you used to wait for to walk through the door
what happens when you start dreading
his walking into the room
when you feel like you have to guard yourself
your heart
your thoughts
for surely he will find something
to criticize
something
to attack
some flaw in you to burst wide open
and leave to spill onto the floor
as he walks away

the other day i was in tears. in the barn. yelling at the sheep. the other day i let my sheep get the best of me. i wondered–loudly and with a great many curse words–what i was even doing here, on this half-assed homestead, trying to get milk from meat sheep who clearly hate me, running from me, and in the case of tyler durden the ram, stalking me and ramming me in the thighs until i cry.

what am i doing?

the other day, i tried to talk to dusty.

stop. right there. that was my mistake. i tried to talk to dusty. i tried to talk to dusty. dusty. who on the day of my brother’s funeral (8 years ago) asked me what was wrong, and when i told him i was upset that he didn’t bother dressing up for my brother’s funeral, he responded, “well look at what you’re wearing.”

dusty.

he likes to ask me what is wrong, and then punish me for having feelings. lately he asks me why i don’t respond when he asks, “what’s wrong?” but the weird thing is, i don’t remember him asking me. i think i have learned to tune him out so that i do not even hear him ask because then, if i hear him, i want to answer…and then i get punched right in my emotions.

so i don’t even hear him anymore.
i don’t look forward to seeing him.
i don’t tell him anything.

or i try not to. i can be a bit of a blabbermouth, forgetting who i can & cannot trust with my feelings. i am like that. soft in the head.

so i tried to talk to dusty, about “us.” it was, of course, somehow interpreted as an assault on him…maybe it was an attack. i don’t know the fuck anymore. but i tried to talk to him. i used the wrong words. then it got ugly.
he accused me of being a facebook junkie (i’m not)
and i responded by slamming shut his video game
and possibly breaking his laptop?
and then
he murdered three of my potato plants.
and tried to knock the internet dish off of the roof
with a steel t-post.

this is where i stopped writing.
his laptop is fine. my potatoes are trying to recover, but look like my heart feels.  wilty & broken.  undernourished.  struggling to survive.