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Showing posts with the label habitat

TBT: We're All Living in Amerika

The first half of 2020 saw a spike in Americans renouncing their citizenship, but my husband and I are still here. In the 2000s, we thought about moving to Europe or New Zealand or some other place where people generally live healthier, happier lives than Americans--with a smaller carbon footprint!--but decided to hunker down in Michigan to raise our child. Although I feel a strong sense of responsibility now for doing what we can for our country of birth (oh no, this is our circus) and a strong faith in the power of grassroots organizing (or maybe I'm still high on maternal hormones), the idea of fleeing this dumpster fire seems more rational than ever. I believe that at this point, the global myth of the United States as #1 is about as vital as the hallucination portrayed in Lindemann's disturbing video for " Platz Eins ." (Content warning: not safe for... anyone, anywhere. Ooohooo, do not click! So danger! So wrong!) 😉 When I was in college, intellectuals used to

TBT: Backyard Goats

Ah, youth, when all the world is a buffet of dreams and you can just as vividly imagine yourself running your own organic farm as inhabiting a high-rise apartment in a glittering city with rent as high as your Manolos. Last night, from the snug warmth of my fluffy bed nested inside my humble but cozy house within a spectacularly October-festooned Michigan woodsy suburb, I dreamed of stepping onto a plane to Australia, about the longest trip I could possibly take on a flight. I remember the thrill of flying itself and the excitement of visiting a place I have never seen, smelled, or tasted. Then I woke up and remembered that we're in a pandemic and Australia is now pretty much constantly on fire like California, and I am very, very lucky to have a healthy little family in a humble little house in this sleepy Great Lakes suburb during what feels like an apocalyptic time to raise a child. I also have a more realistic understanding of what it takes to raise livestock responsibly. Backy

TBT: Tandoori-Style Cooking With or Without Electricity

Rolling blackouts! Mass unemployment and utility shutoffs! Shuttered restaurants and cafes! Social panic! This is not the 2020 I wanted, but I guess it's the apocalyptic time my husband and I have been preparing for since our mid-20s. I don't mean that we adopted "prepping" culture as seen on TV; rather, we studied climate change and sociology and did our best to brace ourselves for when we couldn't rely upon the comforts and conveniences of a reliable electrical grid. We shared a few experiences in countries where you can't take electricity for granted, and we practiced confronting power outages in the United States as adventures rather than catastrophes. It was all fun and games back in our child-free "extended adolescence." Then we became parents and survived an epic two-week power outage during a cold-record-breaking ice storm that spanned Christmas and the New Year, while caring for a three-year-old. It was tough, but we managed to keep our wood

$Monday: Forget Adulting, Try Hermit Crabbing!

Adulting is for squares. You can live your life according to a generic set of milestones if you want to, but if you don't, contorting yourself into someone else's goals and values isn't a sign of maturity, it's avoidance of doing what real grownups do: take responsibility for personal decisions. Being an actual adult is great once you achieve the inner freedom to own what you want to do with yourself. Instead of "adulting" by some middle-to-upper-class,cis/het, straight, white millennial model, especially if you are not all of those things, try "hermit crabbing"--choosing what fits you at each stage of life rather than trying to cram yourself into the shape of someone else's ideal carapace--and changing it as soon as it stops working for you. It's easy to derive your self-worth from your current circumstances, but it is possible to reverse that flow and, to some extent, manifest a higher net worth by working on your feelings of self worth .

TBT: Pumpkin Underpants and the Free Range Vegetables

Long ago, back when the trees were smaller and I didn't have a child, I started a rather ambitious vegetable garden without knowing what I was getting into, and it was great fun. I turned out to be a pretty deadbeat gardener because I kept on starting other ambitious projects at the same time, like epic novels and labor-intensive dinners, but I did learn some things--like how much fun it is to ride my bike to the farm market and buy a pumpkin someone else grew when I feel like making Moroccan-spice pumpkin soup, and also that I can get away with being an even lazier gardener by throwing away a decorative gooseneck gourd in my compost pile and looking out the window the next fall to discover that a huge vine full of its descendants has propagated itself all over my apple wood stick stack.   Below is a post I wrote during the Great Recession, when I was exploring the idea of growing as much food as possible on my own suburban homestead. I learned that I don't get enough sun anywh

TBT: Song of the Apartment

Leading up to the Great Recession, from 2006 - 2008, my husband and I lived in a cheap downtown Lansing apartment. While we don't miss the apartment itself, we do have some fond memories of our time there. Yet looking back from where I sit now (a cheap house in an affordable, diverse, beautiful, and comfortable suburb), I realize that living in a low-income apartment can be a much more healthy, safe, and dignified experience in a community that cares more about its poorest residents. By "cares" I'm not talking about feelings so much as actions and physical realities. I mean municipal-level design, planning, and implementation of social services that raise the tide and lift all the boats. In a more humanely run community, people of humble means don't have to choose between laughing or crying at all the drama in their own lives and their neighbors' lives created by untreated mental health and substance abuse struggles and lack of access to basic needs. There is

$Monday: The Value of Living Close to Your Care Network

Right in the nick of time, before Covid lockdowns, my family shared our best-ever Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 9th birthday party, all at my parents' new house down the road from my house. Looking back at that time feels like a dream now. Those memories are going to be priceless in getting us through a very different kind of holiday season this year. My parents and my immediate family are holding the line and not visiting with any other households indoors, and my parents' proximity to my house has made it easy for us to visit with them frequently, in each other's backyards. They come up with fun things for us to do together from a safe physical distance, like watch my daughter play in the sprinkler or an inflatable pool, or put up a badminton net. It has been good for our mental health and family relationships to have that access to safe ways of socializing without having to go through all the complicated logistics of traveling in a pandemic. My grandmother and several exte

TBT: Men Belong in the Kitchen

Before my daughter came along, my husband and I had a variety of roommates, including a cook who taught my husband the seductive culinary arts! I wrote the post below in the 2000s, when I was gardening, working two jobs, and participating in National Novel Writing Month.  Today, my family still benefits from my husband's crash course in kitchen witchery. On his last day off, he made pizza dough and pie crust dough from scratch while our daughter remote-schooled and I remote-worked. When we ladies of the house finished our work, we joined him in the kitchen and put together some delicious calzones for dinner and an apple pie for dessert. It makes me feel so warm and content to cook with my loves, and to be honest, it makes me feel more attracted to my husband too! It's only human nature. If I may boast a little more, my husband also does almost all of the grocery shopping since the start of the pandemic. And he's great at it. Not every wife can feel such affection toward her

$Monday: Remote Work and Class in a Working Class Household

In a chaotic year, a tidy little home workspace is everything, and I do mean everything. It's work, school, shopping, socializing, news consumption, cooking class, physical training, and entertainment. It's the hub of daily life in a pandemic. While I look forward to the day when we're not tethered to our home computers, I know that realistically, we're in this for another year at least. This is how my own working class / lower middle class family is making the best of it and savoring the silver linings wherever we can find them. There are as many ways to set up home offices and school desks as there are families and individual circumstances, and it can take time to figure out a setup that works for you. While there are unique challenges for everyone, except for maybe the disgustingly rich, I've found that there are also some benefits of working and learning from home that we, as a society, may want to not only extend into the future, past the pandemic, but also ext

TBT: How Do I Love Thee, Manual Mower?

A dozen years after we found it in the shed of the house we bought, our love for this push mower is going strong. Though I will admit that every so often we can't keep up our entire property with this thing, and we do occasionally use a gas-powered lawnmower, our trusty "Flintstones grass cutter" still gets plenty of use as a simultaneous lawn care tool and workout machine. The next lawnmower we buy will definitely be an electric one, but nothing can replace the satisfaction of getting the job done with the power of the human body. Long ago, in the time of the Great Recession, I wrote the following sonnet as an ode to this simple joy. How Do I Love Thee, Manual Mower? How do I love thee, manual mower? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height Of my suburban lawn, when reeling out of sight For the ends of Mowing with quiet Grace.   I love thee to the level of every day's Most emission-free trim, by sun and moonlight. I love thee free

$Monday: We Can Rise Above Death Cult Capitalism

Mmm, doesn't the smell of a bonfire make you feel punkin' spicy? Growing up, I internalized the United States cultural values of hard work as its own reward, high scores, and monetizing everything. From the age of 13, I scrounged for paltry wages (childcare, tutoring, arts and crafts sales, retail and food service and office temp jobs) while earning high grades at expensive private schools. I learned to feel guilty about "wasting" time relaxing without multi-tasking or enjoying a hobby with no intention of turning it into a hustle . I didn't have enough time to eat or sleep properly, and it made me sick and tired all the time. I was curious and drawn to new experiences, but I always felt ashamed of spending any time or resources pursuing an interest that offered no clear path to a paycheck or an award that would reflect a flattering glow upon my forebears. I had a healthy rebellious streak, but I learned to justify my transgressions with proofs of respectability a

TBT: Complete Streets

More than a decade after the greater Lansing area began projects to build, improve, expand, and connect pathways for pedestrians and cyclists, my family has been enjoying the opportunities to go for scenic bike rides and to commute by walk or bike to school, work, parks, and stores. The new site of my workplace, a non-creedal church that serves a diverse community, was chosen partly because the new network of pathways (in addition to the old network of public transportation) connects to it.  When I wrote the post below, the Great Recession had shut down local General Motors plants and left big areas around my neighborhood looking like post-apocalyptic wasteland. Where some people saw devastation, my husband and I saw opportunity for something better. As of 2020, some of the "GM Wasteland" is still a mess. Some of it has gone back to work manufacturing automobiles. Some of it has been filled in with arrays of solar panels to generate clean energy for the Lansing area. And aro