22 March, 2016  |   3 Comments

Crownberry Day


Tuffenbee woke early. It was crownberry day – she would need the extra time.

Every six weeks, Tuffenbee needed to get the berries on her head refreshed in a long process.

That’s how it was in Beepaland. For as long as anyone could remember, every egg-laying Beepa kept 15 crownberries on her head at all time.


The berries had to be fresh.
The berries had to be placed just so.
The berries had to be in perfect condition.

Every six weeks, Tuffenbee woke early to get to the salon. The salon was where the Pincerpaws replaced crownberries.


Beepas didn’t have hands like the Pincerpaws. Beepas paid the Pincerpaws to replace their crownberries. It cost nearly two hundred dollars for fifteen berries!
Can you imagine?

Tuffenbee was trying to save her money for a vacation at the beach. She was saving four hundred dollars for a vacation just by herself.

Every six weeks, Tuffenbee walked to the berry salon. She put the five dollars she would have spent on the bus in a jar. She couldn’t wait to save enough money for that vacation.


When she got to the salon, Tuffenbee paid $200 to the Pincerpaws, sat down on the log and prepared for several hours of boredom.

It’s not that replacing her crownberries hurt, it was just boring. Tuffenbee had a lot of things she’d rather be doing.


Tuffenbee just wanted to put her feet up and relax for the night. Being an egg-laying Beepa meant that sometimes, you needed some extra rest.


Six weeks later Tuffenbee woke early.


Tuffenbee put the five dollars she would have spent on the bus in a jar.


Tuffenbee walked to the berry salon.

After rounding her first corner, Tuffenbee came face to face with a group of Beepas. These were the kind of Beepas that didn’t have to get crownberries replaced every six weeks. These were the kind of Beepas that didn’t lay eggs every month.


This group of Beepas yelled at Tuffenbee,


Before Tuffenbee knew what she was doing, she yelled back at the Beepas, “HEY YOU! YOU SHOULD STOP YELLING AT ME TO SMILE! MAYBE I DON’T WANT TO SMILE”


Tuffenbee felt so confused and scared, she ran for several blocks before she could sit down and take many big breaths to calm herself.

By the time she’d slowed her heart, she realized she’d missed her appointment.


In that moment she said to herself,

“Just wait a minute! Just because I lay the eggs doesn’t mean I have to get crownberries on my head. Who cares if my berries look like everyone else’s? I’m going to let them fall out on their own and see what happens. “

Tuffenbee went home, put her two-hundred dollars in a jar and felt happier than she had in years.


Yes, it’s true, over the next six weeks, the berries rotted and fell off her head.  Tuffenbee worked hard to keep her head clean and berry-free.

Six weeks later, she put another two hundred dollars in a jar.

She laid her egg, put her feet up for the night and planned her vacation at the beach for next month.


10 February, 2016  |   Comment

Lenticular – This year, we’re celebrating a secular Lent

Baby Nora Lea, Valentine's Breakfast

Nora Lea and I loved doing Lent together last year. That is for sure a sentence I never thought I’d say. But, there we are.

This year for Secular Lent (Lenticular?), we decided we wanted to do two things with our Lent.

  1. Give up – stop the worst behavior coming between me and my best me.
  2. Make new – create a thing that is between me and my ideal, future me

So I’m giving up stuff — 40 bags of it. I’m better since meeting James, but I have clutter-y tendencies, especially with vintage stuff. I have old, broken down chairs, boxes, tables and knick knacks far beyond our space’s capacity for storage. I’ll end a weekend feeling like for the entirety of Sunday, I moved stuff from one place to another. And I’m ready to stop feeling that way.

White House Black Shutters has this marvelous 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge that I’m just going to join right in and that’s just fine with me.

[One of the worst habits that our 90’s popular culture instilled in me is a suspicion of joining groups — and it’s actively harming my professional development. UGH. JUST JOIN IN AND GROW ALREADY HJ! This year, I’m joining all kinds of groups just to spite my “I’m too good for groups” gut reaction. Any I should know about?]

And along with Nora Lea, I’ll be writing a poem every day. At the end, we’re excited to have a book of 80 poems! We’ll be posting some of our favorites as we go on.

She says she’s giving up Super Mario Bros — and we support her 100%.

The older I get, the more I see that there’s a time for things — and when you try to force it, you end up wasting effort. Just like there’s a right time for resting, for gathering, for celebrating, there’s the right time for us to give up what doesn’t work for us. For our family, this is that time.

When does it feel right to give things up?

2 February, 2016  |   Comment

Pluck it out

Dottie's taking it upon herself to pluck out some eyes

A few weeks before I quit the church*, the priest talked about that cheerful old passage from Matthew 18:9 with that golden nut, “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out.” It’s a doozy, and easy to skim over if you’re not religious like I’m not religious. But something in his talk resonated with me. Since I have this internet weblog, I wanted to unpack it here.

Here’s the text he referred to:

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it’s better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

Pretty brutal, no?

The priest went on to break it down. Where Jesus mentions “your hand,” he’s talking about your work, or where you get your power. If your work causes you to do shitty stuff, you’re better off having cut off your hands than doing the shitty stuff. At a basic level, doing shitty stuff for your work causes a special kind of hell in your heart.

“Enter life lame” refers to your motivation. If your motivation comes from a rotten place, if your motivation is spite, is anger, is vengeful, it’s better to have stumps below your ankles than the living hell those feelings incur.

“If your eye causes you to stumble” refers to your worldview — if your worldview is so horrible, that you aim to hurt people, it’s better to be one eyed. That hot, burny feeling of wanting to take away from others is a hell in itself.

Now I’m not going to argue theology with anyone. I have a spotty church record, and as I mentioned above, I quit that particular church. But I like where Jesus was going with this because it resonates so strongly with me.

  1. Work/Power – Having to come up with ideas to sell products I strongly oppose is awful. Yet, I can come up with excuse after excuse about how this is what I need to do to support my family (Uh, no it’s not).
  2. Motivation – I’m ashamed to say that spite TRULY is my main motivator. I find the extra wind beneath my wings by wanting to stick it to someone. Even more oomph comes if they really did me wrong. Spite is an effective motivator, but wouldn’t it feel better if I chose to go after my own goals? Enemies be damned? (Yes, yes I would.)
  3. Worldview – That hollow, hot feeling of wanting to watch someone lose everything? It’s something I’m well acquainted with. Especially as I watch the election stories this year, I see a lot of other people are cheering for others to lose too. Not lose a political race, but lose in life. And that feeling… that’s hell. (Who am I rooting for to lose? Why?)

Three cheers for this undefined spiritual lady applying some of that age old wisdom to herself. Avoiding hell, especially the hell in this world, has everything to do having a good life. I aim for a good life.

Jesus is just alright

* Usually, when you quit going to a church, you just quit going. No one mentions it again. But this church had good, curious people who wanted to know why. And so I told them. It rarely goes well when you tell anyone why you won’t do their thing anymore, much less church people. And that’s for another day.

1 February, 2016  |   1 Comment

February’s project

When I turned four, they gave me a typewriter

I guess I understand boomers now.

When I was in college, and those 40 somethings waxed on
about how music just isn’t the same anymore, man.
The spirit of music is just so hollow, man.
The zeitgeist doesn’t make sense anymore, man.

I couldn’t understand them, those Baby Boomers.

My response was always, like duh, things change.
Things curve towards my cute 20 year old body,
so get with the program, boomers.

And yet, here I am, paralyzed by the same thing on my internet.

I’m now a 40 something, waxing on,
about how the internet just isn’t the same, bruh.
We used to write truthful, charming updates about our lives, dude.
It was hella small and hella sweet, yo.

(BRB, taking a word shower.)

Here I am, saying, like duh, HJ, things change.
Things curve toward their cute 20 year old bodies,
so get with the program, culturally irrelevant lady.

And like I’ve found freedom in embracing my lumpy forty year old cultural irrelevancy, (LADIES, did you know it’s absolutely the best thing ever not to be catcalled anymore?) I find freedom in my internet old ladying.

So join me this month while I post my old-fashioned internet thoughts every day.
I’ll forget to post the share buttons and I’ll fail to properly promote my posts.
I’ll fumble the Snapchat and my images will be too big.
I’ll forget to apply all the best practices I use for my work to myself.

(And it’ll be a blast.)

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