Squee! — Website Changes and New Writing Projects

So, if you take a look around, you’ll see a few changes around here, and a few more are coming.

The upcoming change is (as soon as I can) I’m getting a new theme up, because the menu on this one is just not well designed for anything except a simple light colored background.

And, well, that’s not what I have anymore. (See? Look? Isn’t it pretty!) I’m really happy with how the new header came out, and grumbled that I’m going to need to re-do it (again!) to fit whatever new theme I end up getting. But the basic design will be easy to recreate. Eventually I’m going to scrape up the money to commission someone to draw me a new werewolf. Something specific to me. But this one is pretty good and works for now.

And if you look to your right…

I’ve changed up the side bar a lot. I finally swapped out The Bargain for Safer Sex in the “buy me!” box up top. I’d originally meant to be changing the book there each month. Or at least every new book release! Hopefully I’ll do better with that in the future.

Below that I decided to put in some progress bars for my active projects. I’m really happy with the progress on Polyamory and Kink (almost halfway there!). Planting Life is going slower, but that’s, well, life!

Finally, I finally added a Patreon-button. (Want to read Polyamory and Kink and Planting Life now? Get all the awesome without having to wait?) The Kofi button is still there as well, if folks ever want to toss a couple bucks my way because my writing has helped or inspired them.

New Books!

Sort Of

Okay, so Bound by his Oath isn’t exactly new, in fact I talked about it a bit last spring. But it did manage to push itself to the top of my pile for a week, and grew over ten thousand words in that week. At this point I’m pretty sure that it will be the next novel after Planting Life. (Sorry Space Werewolves!)

Finally, I got bit by the inspiration bug sometime in August, mentioned it to Michon, and now we have a joint project! We’ve been talking about doing a collab  for a while but never found the right story or the right time. Well, now we have.

We’re in the early stages of plotting out an urban fantasy take on Robin Hood. We are trying to stay as true to the ‘original’ characters and stories as possible, while, being us, queering the fuck out of them. For instance, not many folks today know why Will Scarlett is called ‘Will Scarlett’. When he first met Robin & Co. he was wondering through the woods wearing scarlet silk clothing. He was also casually carrying a flower that he stopped to sniff now and again. Robin underestimates him, badly, dismissing him as a pancy and a fop. And gets his ass kicked.

So we had a lot of fun the other night character building “Will, Divina de Scarlett,” who, after some years in Special Forces, never wants to see a dull color again in his life. He will without a thought walk down any street you care to name in makeup, silks, and an up do. And kick the ass of anyone who gives him trouble over it.

Want to Join in on the Fun? Join my Patreon and See the Awesome as We Make It.

When Relationships Evolve

Michael and I had a difficult conversation yesterday, but one that’s been too long coming. See, when we were focused on survival and learning to cope with various medical stuff, and caring for kids, and, and, and… our relationship changed. Honestly, it changed in a way neither of us ever wanted.

The best words I have for it (and this still isn’t quite right, but it’s what I got) is somewhere along the line we stopped being friends.

Wait, What?

A big part of the problem is that we’ve grown in different directions in terms of the things we enjoy doing. So it’s hard to find things to do together when we do have time. Part of the problem is that between health problems and low spoons, we are often simply unable to spend that time together.

And that causes another problem. Because we aren’t spending much time together in a positive way, a high number of our interactions are when we’re stressed and trying to get stuff done. So I don’t see as much of Michael’s humor, but I see a lot of her bitterness and anger. Michael doesn’t see a lot of whatever positives she sees in me, but does see a lot of my jadedness and no-spoons-to-give-a-fuck. And that’s not a recipe for maintaining a friendship.

A last problem has, thankfully, finally been solved by time. The kids are old enough we can tell them ‘Entertain yourselves for an hour/stay in bed and don’t bother us except for emergencies, we’re having parent time.’

And, that’s a hard thing. It’s always hard with a friendship ends.

What’s different here is that our relationship isn’t based on in friendship anymore. It started that way, but it’s grown a lot in the past ten years.

We love each other.
We care for each other.
We are nesting partners.
We are co-parents.
We are each other’s main support and help.
We are life partners with shared goals and dreams we are working towards together.

Don’t get me wrong. Realizing that we’ve lost that friendship hurts. And I’m grieving it.

But the end of one part of our relationship don’t mean our relationship has to end. Doesn’t even mean our relationship is unhealthy or bad for us.

It just means our relationship went in a direction neither of us expected or wanted.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Michael believes that we can rebuild our friendship. If we make an effort to spend time together, if we make more time for each other, etc etc.

I’m doubtful. More than once over recent years we’ve said, ‘You know, we need to spend more time together.’ ‘We really should start doing date nights again.’ ‘We aren’t spending emough time together…’ And we’ll try for a while, but it never lasts.

And of course, what time and spoons we can get, we always have a dozen uses for. What time we’ve gotten to ourselves has gone more towards the physical side of our relationship, be it sex and/or cuddles. Which, really, we need more. We have other friends we can get friendship-type needs met with. But neither of us really have anyone else we can turn to on a regular basis for sex and cuddles are hit-and-miss.

So I’m not sure I want to try and ‘fix’ this. It seems like an exercise in frustration that will make it harder to get other needs met.

Where do we go from here? I think we accept that relationships aren’t domesticated. They are wild things that grow naturally in directions we don’t expect. We go forward from here, enjoying what we had, and, yes, being sad for what we lost. But also remembering that in any healthy relationship, growth is constant. Maybe once the kids are older and more of are family are in the area so we have more support, we’ll have more time and spoons to spend together. Or maybe we’ll become a queer version of the crotchty old couple who are constantly fighting and seem to hate each other but god help you if you come between them or cause trouble for one of them. Or maybe we’ll grow further apart (hopefully not, but it does happen).

I’ve learned the hard way that I’m shit at predicting the future, including the future of relationships. So… we’ll see what happens. But given everything else we’ve been through, I expect we’ll still be together, and still be glad to be together, in another 10 years.

One way or another.

(After some thought, I’m tagging this Polyamory on Purpose because even though I’m not actively advice-blogging anymore, I’ve known a lot of folks who could learn from this.)

Indoor Gardening: Round N+1

The 99th Not-Success

It’s a good thing I’m stubborn. Like, a really good thing.

Thomas Edison has never been one of my role models, but lately he’s been on my mind a lot. Particularly, his famous quote, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

For whatever reason, my mind re-works the quote to, “I have not failed 99 times, I’ve just found 99 ways not to succeed.” Either way it means the same thing.

The lettuce seedlings I planted a few weeks ago are going leggy. The marigolds I was so proud of growing and repotting aren’t doing so well. In fact, one of the pots has gone moldy.

So…

The good news is that the mold, at least, is fixable. But I don’t think I’ll be using these pots again. Bad drainage, can’t be watered the way I like, now this… yes, I’ve probably been overwatering, but if the pots weren’t trapping water it would be less of an issue. I think. Probably.

That’s what I’m telling myself, damn it!

What Next

Unfortunately, this time of year it’s nearly impossible to find flower pots. In fact, the way I ended up with these pots in the first place is they were all that was left at Walmart in late August, right before they cleared out their ‘Garden Center’ for the year.

Lowe’s is much the same.

Somewhere around here they has to be an actual garden store, but I haven’t found it yet. Country Junction does farm and construction supplies, so might be worth checking. Not likely, but worth swinging by when I have a chance.

I’m going to give the lettuce another week. I might get lucky… but I think the seedlings are just too far from the grow light. My current set up is just too limited — I can have a higher grow light that’s good for established plants, or a low grow light that’s close enough to be good for seedlings. I need a new set up.

The good news is that all these not-failures really have been an education. 6 months ago when I tried to picture what kind of set up I’d need or where I’d put it, I really didn’t know. Now I’ve got a much more solid idea.

There’s a corner next to my desk where, if I move things around a bit, I can put a small-medium shelving unit. One of those wire mesh ones, I think. It’ll be right by a south facing window, so ventilation and sunlight for at least part of the year. I can put established low-growing plants on the bottom shelf(s), where the weight will help anchor the unit. Seedlings in trays on one self either in the middle along with small plants that have been repotted but aren’t near to full size yet. And tall growing plants on the top shelf, where they’ll have room to grow.

A floor lamp with a grow light will provide light for the tall plants, then on the self with the seedlings put a small light or two to give the seedlings the intense and close-in light they need to not get leggy. Between the floor lamp, the seedling lights, and the sunlight, to plants on the bottom shelves should have enough light (one reason to get for mesh shelves instead of solid shelves). If not, it will be easy enough to add another light.

My one concern with this set up is that it really will be rather energy intensive. I’d rather not be using all that electricity, for a number of reasons. But ultimately I think the cost (to me and the environment) of this setup will be less than the cost of buying from the grocery store.

Okay, But What Now

Well, yeah, that’s long-termish planning. All of it requires buying stuff which requires money, which I don’t have right now. At least not to spare for this. Probably in January I can start getting a few things…

I’ve got a rectangle ceramic pot I meant to put the lettuce in. I’ll give the marigolds a few days-a week to dry out after I remove as much as I can of the mold. Then I’ll re-pot them into that pot. They’ll hopefully do better there than these plastic monstrosities.

For the lettuce, I’ll probably try to give a box or something that raises the seedlings up closer to the light. If that works, well, I’ve got a lot of lettuce seeds, because that’s the way seed packs are. Until I can get more pots, I’ll do a micro-green thing. Plant lettuce seeds, grow until they are a couple inches high and have a couple real leaves out. Have a lettuce snack. Repeat. It’ll give me a lot of practice with seedlings in a short time, I’ll be eating more vegetables, another win-win.

So… that’s the plan. We’ll see what happens, right?

Tradition is The Support Frame — Generational Home

Last week I spent a while talking about how economic stability is the foundation of a family, and for a family that will hold together through the generations, this usually means a family business to provide that stability.

The caveat, that I didn’t mention last week is that this assumes the family business is successful. Obviously, and unsuccessful family business (like the one my grandfather tried to start) won’t provide any financial stability. And my grandfather’s business did fall prey to what may be the most common danger a family business can face — heirs who couldn’t keep the business running.

But that’s not what we’re going to talk about today. Because really, what our heirs in this generation do is out of our hands. Never mind all the future generations.

No, today we are talking about something different. If economic stability is the foundation of the family, then…

Tradition Forms the Support Structure

I know for a lot of folks these days ‘tradition’ and ‘traditional’ are dirty words. And there’s good reason for that, given the way claims of ‘tradition’ have been used to attack or exclude many of us in recent decades.

But tradition is like a knife. It is first and foremost a tool to help people.

Tradition is what creates culture. And this is true whether we are talking about a family, a religion, a fandom, or a country. Culture is critical to the survival of any social instutition. Culture creates a sense of belonging. Culture is also what creates non-economic value. My words are failing, but hopefully you get what i mean. There is value to art forms, sports, holidays, etc, that is completely separate from whether or not someone has managed to commercialize them. That those things are all part of culture.

Why do we play baseball and (American) football in the US, but soccer is the big game in the UK? Culture.

Why different cuisines in New Orleans and Maine? Culture.

Why Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Thanksgiving Day parade in NYC? Culture.

Culture, which is created by tradition. After all, Maine and New Orleans both have seafood heavy diets, there’s no practical reason why their cuisine would be so different today. But they each developed separate traditions based on the available spices, needs of the people living there, and ideas brought in from other cultures. Those traditions became embedded in the cultures of those regions and they continue today.

Evolution vs Creation

Of course those traditions (and cultures) evolved naturally over time. No one set out to create them.

A family can evolve traditions as well. But bringing multiple people who have different backgrounds and personal and/or family traditions from other families can easily cause conflict. So I prefer to intentionally create our traditions.

For instance, there are some holidays that I really want to be part of our traditions. So I put together a short write up on what those holidays are, why they are meaningful for me, and why I think they can be meaningful for everyone in our household even though most of them are Jewish holy days and only I and Michael are/will be converting to Judaism.

And I asked everyone else to share if they have any holidays that want to make part of our family traditions. The risk here was that we would end up with too many holidays to feasibly observe. Everyone agreed with my holiday suggestions, and only one other holiday was put forth. Halloween.

So, yeah. Fall is going to be an… ah… interesting, not to say intense season in our home. What with Rosh haShana, Sukkot, and Halloween back to back (or sometimes overlapping).

Of course, there are more to family traditions than holidays. But holidays are a good place to start. Especially since we can (sometimes) share them now, while we work up to being able to live together.

Hey, I’m writing a fantasy story with a group of folks building a generational family.

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The Foundation of the Family — Generational Home

It’s one thing to say that I want to build a generational home, a family that will develop its own existence beyond my lifetime.
It’s another thing to make it happen.

To Build Anything, You Need a Foundation

Social and economic pressures in the US are actually working against family as a lasting social structure. That’s something most of those folks decrying the ‘death’ of the nuclear family aren’t getting. This isn’t some moral failing or rejection of good-old-family values. It’s a rational response to the world we live in.

Nothing has a stronger impact on culture than economics. Even religion must bow to the basic necessity of putting food on the table.
But that, ironically, also explains how some families have managed to maintain coherence across generations.

I used to wonder how you could have business or farms that had been held by one family for decades or even centuries. It was only when I learned about the impact of economics on culture that I began to understand. A successful family business protects the family unit from economic disruption. After all, if Dad has a company you’ve been trained to take over, whether it’s a corner store or a Fortune 500 company, you don’t need to move across the country to find a job.

A family business provides a foundation for a family to last through the generations.

We Don’t Have One — Yet

For our family that will be the farm. If we are successful with it, then our heirs will have at least two cushions against economic disruption:

1) They will have land that they own. That means a home, shelter, a place to live. As long as they can keep the tax payments up they will always have a place to live. (Admittedly, tax payments have driven many people out of their family homes. But fewer people than rent or mortgage!)

2) If they keep the farm going (which will, of course, be out of my hands once we pass it on to said heirs), they will always have food to put on the table.

Those are powerful things to pass on to those who come after us.

We Aren’t a Traditional Family

Two major differences we have from a traditional family business come from our basis in polyamory. First, and most, this is a group enterprise. Second is our nature as a chosen family. While these bring challenges, probably including challenges we haven’t yet recognized, they also reduce challenges faced by traditional family businesses.

I’m still working through a lot of it. And I’m mostly working it through on my own. I do need to talk all this through with the rest of the family, but, hell, we are years away from getting the farm and none of us have the energy to spare right now. I happen to be one of those folks who obsessively plans for all possible futures. Partly a level of anxiety/paranoia. Partly because as an autistic person, the more I plan and prepare for the future, the less the changes the future brings fuck with my head.

Tradition and Freedom

That said, a big advantage this household will have is that as a group, there isn’t pressure for any individual to take up the family business. Only two or three people in each generation are needed to keep the farm going. Other members of the family who don’t want to take up the farm will be able to pursue their own life goals and bring in money from other careers. Basically, it’s kind of best-of-both-worlds. The food security of a family farm and the economic security of literally anything other than farming. Because, yeah, the economic prospects of farming in the modern world suck. Trust me, we’re not going into this blind.

Communal Isn’t a Bad Word

The most economically successful small-farming approach historically has been communal farms where a whole village works together. Why: simple. Farming is labor-intensive, and economies of scale apply to labor too. 10 people working together on 10 acres can do more than 10 people each working 1 acres. And our household being a family group means that extra labor will be available for labor-intensive work. Sure, no one wants to put an hour or two into harvesting before or after working an 8 hour day at the construction site or office. But for family (and food over the winter) people will do that kind of thing. And having those extra hands available makes a big difference. (In theory. I think. Yes, I’m making this up as I go along.)

Economy Over All

So, yeah. This probably isn’t what folks were expecting out of this post, but this is reality. The foundation of any human endeavor is economic. Which is another way of saying how will this be maintained. Either money, labor, or both are required to build anything lasting. And not paid once, but continuously. For social constructs (which is what any family is), the critical maintenance is food on the table and a roof to shelter under. This is true whether that food is scavenged from dumpsters or served on gold plates. Whether the roof is a cardboard box or a palace. If the food and shelter aren’t there or aren’t adequate, people who can will leave to find them.

I don’t need the gold plates or palace. But so long as I have any say in the matter, I’ll be damned if any of my family is food insecure or homeless again.

First Annual Jess Mahler Bookshelf Report and Reader Poll

Polyamory on Purpose Poll

First off, I’ve been talking about writing a book on raising kids in a polyamorous family for some years now and kept putting it off because of lingering emotional shit from my custody case.

I think I’m finally healed enough to tackle that topic and I know it’s one a lot of people want to see a book about.

BUT I already said I’d make my next book about abuse in polyamory, which is also a topic a lot of people are interested in.

Being the indecisive type, I decided to hand off the decision to y’all.

Here’s the poll for what the next Polyamory on Purpose book should be. Go vote on it!

(I a vague memory that I may have done a poll like this before? But if I did I don’t have any record of it? Anyway, sorry if this is a duplicate, but please help me out!)

Book Progress Updates!

Of late all my writing time has gone to Polyamory & Kink and Planting Life in a Dying City. All my other theoretically-active-projects have been on hold. My original goal was to finish both of them by December, and then be able to shift my focus. Unfortunately, this summer happened, and well… there was that too.

Anyway, as I write this, the re-write for P&K is 8% done. I actually have far more than that written, it’s just I haven’t yet gone through most of it to see what needs to be fixed, cut, added, etc. In total, I have over 21,000 words written, which is a bit more than 50% of the goal.

As long as I am able to keep writing regularly, I think I have a good chance of finishing on time.

Planting Life is another matter. While I’m ‘officially’ further along (32% finished!), I’m trying to get a lot more total words done (2.5x more, actually). Add to that, P&K is my priority (unlike my fiction work, my nonfiction actually has a following). So Planting Life only gets time when I’m at or ahead of my weekly goals for P&K.

Still, I’m making progress and really happy with how the story is coming. Paiokp is finally developing a personality and role beyond ‘random background person’. (I always figured ey would, but in a story with this many ‘main’ characters, it can take time to get to everyone.)

Jess Mahler Bookshelf Progress

So… the goal is to publish enough books to fill a bookshelf. In order to track this goal, it would be useful to actually have physical copies of the books so I can (ya know) put them on a bookshelf.

Which means at some point I need to format, submit, and order a paperback version of The Bargain and Whips & Fangs. As well as order copies of Polyamorous Home and Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous. That might be a good idea. To bad I didn’t think of it sooner. See, I’m starting a new tradition — Each Rosh haShana, lining up all my books on an empty shelf and taking a picture to record my progress.

Unfortunately, as noted, I don’t actually have copies of more than half my books, so…

Here ya go.

Shana tova.

Why I Don’t Write About Cuil Press

Okay, time to fess up.

I’ve been avoiding writing about Cuil Press. I know it’s one of my goals, and I know I said I’d be blogging about all of them regularly. But I dropped the ball on this one.

Actually, I dropped several balls on this one.

The truth is that the main reason I haven’t been blogging about the Press is it has been too depressing. Between my summer-from-hell, Desy’s health issues, and the shit Michon had dumped into hir life, the Press took a major back seat. This resulted in multiple reschedulings of our current projects, among other issues.

Hard truth: more than any other goal, the Press is where my insecurities eat at me. They eat at my badly enough that if Michon and Desy weren’t depending on me I probably would have quit by now.

Which… is ironic since the reason my insecurities are eating at me so hard is because other people are depending on me.

It’s this lovely downward spiral of self flagellation.

Let’s review those goals —

The Bookshelf?

If I don’t manage to get my books out, no one is hurt. At worst, a few readers are let down but… real talk, I have no evidence to date that there are folks out there waiting (eagerly or otherwise) for my next release. And while that does a bit to my ego, it also means no real pressure.

The Farm?

That’s literally a situation where any progress is improvement. If we never get the farm, but I figure out how to grow veggies indoors, that’s a win. If we never get the farm, but Michael learns project management, that’s a win. If never get the Farm, but Michon and everyone moves close enough that we can be in each other’s lives regularly, that’s a win.

Old ‘Woman’?

Hell, that’s all me. My friends and family may cheer me on, but I’m not letting anyone down if I change my mind or decide to take a break.

Generational Home?

I mean, that’s mostly my thing. Everyone else in the fam agrees we want to live together and do a communal thing, but I’m the one who wants to find a way to make it last past our lifetimes. If anyone else wants that, well, they haven’t told me, ya know? And honestly, I wouldn’t expect them to. We work because we each provide something to the synergy we create. And I’m the one who is inward-focused. The one whose goals center around caring for and nurturing the family.

But the Press?

*shudder* Not only Michon and Desy, but every author we sign a contract with is depending on me to get things write. To not fall apart during the run up to publication, to stay on schedule, to manage our goals and deadlines, to, to, to…

I’m going to fail them. I know it. I know it the way I know the sun rises in the east. Because for all that I’ve healed and grown and fought back, I don’t think ever really recover from a childhood of emotional abuse.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

So yeah. There are definitely times I catch myself looking around for the exit sign. This is one thing left in my life where I am legit scared of failing. And times like this summer when I couldn’t do fuck all for months at a time, they don’t exactly help.

We are slowly getting back on track. I finished the Once Upon a Green Rose cover and am making progress on the cover for Kindle a Fire. Deadlines and schedules have been updated since we pushed the publication date for Green Rose back into January.

I should (please God!) have the formatting for Green Rose finished by Oct so Desy can send it out to book reviewers. (Contact her if you want a review copy.)

And, if we can keep the momentum going, we’ll have two books out early next year. Fingers crossed.

Now, where’d that valium go…

Needed: Polyamory & Kink Rewrite

So…. I mean, the title kind of says it. For the second time, I need to take one of my polyamory on purpose books and do a major re-write just as I thought I was finishing up. So… Polyamory & Kink…

Similar to the major re-write of Safer Sex a couple years ago, what triggered it was recognition of what I wasn’t saying. In this case, somewhat embarrassingly, I found as the book went on, I was saying almost nothing about polyamory. It had become a kink 101 book.

Now, being honest, I actually know very little about what is out there for kink 101. I learned my kink mostly the old fashioned way (from other folks in the Scene) or the Millenial way (from forums and blogs). Not at all from books. For all I know there are no books out there covering kink 101 and such a book would be desperately needed.

But… that isn’t my schtick, you know? Maybe one day I will write the books on kink, and autism, and queerness, and all the other ideas ideas I’ve toyed with from time to time. But for nearly a decade now, my focus has been on polyamory, and I’m not ready to give that up.

So What Went Wrong?

I’m back at the drawing board, as it were, and I think I see where I made my mistake. I took the approach of introducing polyamorous folks to kink. I should have been focusing on how to make kink work in your polyamorous relationships.

With that in mind, I’m starting over from page one, reviewing everything I’ve already got, rewriting as needed, and restructuring, well, quite a lot.

The ‘good’ news is, I actually have some measure of self awareness by this point. So I built an two and a half months into my writing schedule. Like, literally. I use an online app called Pacemaker (highly recommend) to plan out my writing schedule. And I said, “I want the book finished by Dec 31, but let’s plan for me to finish by Nov 30.” Then I plugged all my data into Pacemaker and it said that at my planned rate of progress, I’d be done by mid-October!

Fingers crossed, there’s a good chance I’ll still be done by the end of December.

Want to Watch the Polyamory & Kink Rewrite as it happens?

I re-started by old Patreon page. If you want to see the draft of P&K as it’s (re)written, hop on over there and become a patron!

Not Sure Where to Start…

So much has happened over the past few weeks, there’s so much I could say or focus on, that I’ve been spinning my wheels not sure where to start.

So…Most of what’s been going on the past month has been centered on family, farm, and me.

Family

The big family thing going on, I really don’t feel like I can talk about. It’s not my thing, it’s big, it’s life-breaking, and it’s the foundation of most of the family. We have plans to deal with it, and no one is in immediate danger. For me, personally, it’s sent my PTSD through the roof and occupied way more of my thought and function than I can afford and still keep up with regular life stuff.

And that’s in addition to…

The start of the school year is probably the hardest part of the year for my household, and the family as a whole.

Honestly, sometimes I wish that school just lasted the whole year, without the summer break.

Why?

Because autism.

Somewhere around half our family is is might be autistic, including three+ kids. The transition from summer schedule to school schedule is…. really really rough.
And rougher than usual this year because of this thing mentioned above.
So we’re going into a new school year with a lot of extra stress and problems. Which obviously doesn’t help.

Kid 1, Kidling and I had a nice visit with Nana for most of a week. Nana is struggling even more than I realized with being homebound and just not having anything to fill her time. Later today Michael will be bringing a pile of yarn over so she can start crocheting again (and yes, I will be introducing her to Ravelry!) If anyone has suggestions for things someone in a wheel chair with not much in the way of things (ie, books, games, computer, etc) can do, that would be awesome!

Plans for Boston fam to move down to where my household is have been modified thanks to the big thing, but may end up happening sooner than originally planned, which would be a silver lining to this fiasco.

Farm

I’m taking my fourth stab of the year at growing plants from seed. The first attempt failed because the area wasn’t well ventilated and mold started growing in the soil.

The second because executive dysfunction messed with the watering schedule.

The third because after I found a way to water with string irrigation I ran into lighting issues. It turns out having a window on the opposite side of the room from the grow light when you can’t turn the grow light on as soon as the sun comes up can cause some issues.

Unfortunately, the set up I had with the string irrigation wouldn’t fit in any of our windowsills, and we don’t have any place with enough ventilation that wouldn’t cause conflict between the sun and the grow lights.

So…

I picked up a handful of seedling pots (the last Walmart had in their almost-abandoned Garden Center), and tried just placing them right in the window. I started with four marigold seeds. After some fumbling, I found the best way to water them was to put the pots in a small bowl of water for a few minutes. For some reason this is easier to remember and less stress on the executive dysfunction than using a pitcher. Don’t ask me why. But since it’s better for me and better for the plants, I call it a win.

Two of the marigolds sprouted, two didn’t. No idea why, but I went with it. When I was sure the two unsprouted ones weren’t going to make a late appearance (and after we got back from Nana’s), I pulled two seeds for a green apple and planted those. One of them sprouted this morning (you can just barely see it toward the outer edge of the left-most pot). The other… well, we’ll see.

We aren’t allowed to have window boxes here. And besides, it’s going to be getting cold soon! So I’m hoping that once the plants are established, they’ll be alright with the grow light. We’ll see what happens. I may need to rearrange things in the apartment. I’ve got a side table by my desk that is right by one of the south facing windows. The table currently has a printer on it, and the window a heavy curtain (screen glare is a pain). But I may be able to rearrange things to work better…

Me

I’ve picked up my crochet hook again for the first time in a year or more.

In the last week or so I’ve added 10 rows to this, which is close to half the total. I goofed the pattern, using blue instead of black there at the bottom. But I’m thinking of leaving it this way. I’m at the mid-point, and I thank having the pattern reverse in the middle will work well.

Oh, what is it?

When it’s done it’s going to be a cowl. So I can keep my neck warm and my head covered at the same time 😉

I stopped doing crochet because it felt like it was making my anxiety worse–I’ve had a pattern of repetitive motions that I need to think about doing that. The reality, I think, is that they don’t make the anxiety worse so much as create space for the anxiety I’ve buried to come to the surface.

But I’m doing a lot better now, and wanted to try again. Obviously, it’s going well.

I’ve also been making progress at staying in touch with people. Some folks who hadn’t heard from me in too long got phone calls or emails this month, and I think I’ll be able to keep up the pattern. Fingers crossed.

I am who I want to be (and that surprised me)

A couple of days ago there was a lot of talk on Twitter about autistic masking, and one corner of the discussion focused on how hard it can be to find yourself after you’ve masked for so long you forget who you are under the mask. During that discussion, I became consciously aware of something that I had been slowly recognizing for a while now.

Okay, if you missed the backstory, in January I did a series of posts about life goals. One of those posts was When I Grow Up I Want to Be HER. I acknowledged at the end of that post that,

It embraces things which have always been core to me–family, connecting with and learning from people, taking care of folks I love, music, being a home-body, not liking in-person socializing. But it also challenges me to grow, not into something different, but into a more capable, confident, comfortable version of who I am now.

But I still saw ‘her’ as someone I needed to grow into, and I realized, that’s not it.

I already am ‘her’

Or at least, I would be her, right now, almost no growing required, if I had the resources and health to do everything I’m already trying to do right now. I am the center pole of my family. I am in contact with friends across the country as often as my health and sanity allow and the only reason I haven’t pursued a closer connection with some folks I know across the globe is our mutual health and spoons makes it difficult to stay in touch beyond an occasionally ‘glad you are still alive.’ My home is as full of books and music and fresh baking and everything else I want as I can manage. I even got a bread machine so I can always have fresh bread, whether or not I have the sanity to manage the kneading/rising cycle myself.

Everything I wrote about wanting to do or have — I am doing and do have to the best of my ability right now. And if I had the resources (primarily money and health), I’d be doing even more.

So… yeah.

Growing into me

The biggest differences between who I am and who I want to be mainly come down to experience and confidence. And, well, you get confidence from experience.

It’s the first time in my life that I can say, I am who I want to be. I still have a lot of healing and growing to do. But I am the person I always want to grow into. That’s…

Seriously awesome and kind of scary. Because that means it’s time to stop working towards a future self, and start focusing on being who I am today to the best of my ability.

Or, to pull out an old cliche, time to spread my wings and fly.

It’s gonna be epic.

In, you know, a down home, introverted, fresh bread and butter kind of way.