About Me

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Lapsed anthropologist-turned-burlesque performer and post-modern punk housewife/homesteader living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a hunky husband, gorgeous daughter, adorable corgi, fluffy rabbit, and three clucking fabulous chickens.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Of Ailments Great and Small

I've been silent for a while, mostly I haven't felt I had anything worth sharing. I strive to post useful things like tutorials and tips and things I've learned. I don't know why I thought my current journey wouldn't be useful. It might not have to do with homemaking or homesteading, but it's still an important story, I think.

About a month back, Mr. Bear accompanied me to the clinic where I talked to a doctor for the first time about my depression. I've been depressed for about fifteen years. I always thought it was situational. I thought, "I'll feel better when...". When I'm out of my mother's house, when I'm out of the Army, when I have a job, when I have a different job, when I finish school. Well, my life is pretty much fantastic and everything I ever hoped for, and still underneath everything I did there was that undercurrent of sadness. And I was tired of it.

My awesome primary care physician ran some blood work on me and put me on Zoloft. After a few weeks I went back for a follow-up appointment where she informed me that my blood work showed that I have hypothyroidism(an underactive thyroid), which can contribute to depression, weight problems, low energy, etc. Pretty much everything I've been feeling for the last decade and a half. So in addition to my anti-depressants, I am not also on thyroid medication. A low dose for now, to see how I tolerate it.

I have several friends who have gone through the same thing, and they all tell me it'll take about a month to really feel the difference, but that when I do, what a difference it'll be. I'm already feeling much better. The undercurrent of sadness is gone. I no longer cry every day, in fact I only seem to cry when there is something worth crying about, imagine that. I'm sleeping better. Before I started on my anti-depressants, I don't remember going even one day without feeling hopeless and weepy. I feel like I have my life back. It's exhilarating.

I resisted seeking help for so long out of fear of the stigma that depression still carries, the people who think that those with depression are wallowing, that it's something you can just snap out of and if you need help that you're weak. I also feared the effects that medication would have on me, having witnessed people who turned into emotionless monsters. I wish I had sought treatment years ago. I have the energy and desire to do things I've wanted to do for so long but couldn't. I get to enjoy this amazing life I have, with my amazing partner. It isn't an overnight transition. I find myself still avoiding doing things, out of habit more than anything else. It'll take a while to break myself of these habits, but I'm really looking forward to being the person I feel I am inside.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Winding Down

 The summer is coming to a close, which means the end of the growing season is coming up. It makes me sad, I've learned so much this season that I want to keep pressing on! Mr. Bear has been toying with the idea of installing some grow lights in our storage room downstairs so we can continue to grow things through the winter.

My back deck container garden is doing well. The asparagus we planted seems to be holding on admirably. I hope to take it with us when we eventually move.
 I love it's green fronds, they're so soft.

 I think we may have another cucumber growing on the vine! I certainly hope so. We've had a dearth of pollinators this year, which means no pumpkins and only one cuke so far.

 I tied the vines up to expose the flowers a bit more, I hope it helps.

 Only one of the three lavender plants we brought back from San Juan Island survived, but it's doing marvelously! I even harvested some of the lavender to put in my hexipuffs, so the finished quilt will smell heavenly.

 The lemon tree is going to be an indoor-outdoor plant for sure. Right now it's living on the back porch, but it will look lovely in the living room when the time comes to move it inside.

 Our pepper plant is the only plant that seems to have no trouble getting pollinated. We have half a dozen new little peppers forming on it, even as the first round are beginning to turn red.

 These little guys are so spicy that I could use just one in a giant pot of chili, or just one in a giant bowl of salsa. I may have to dry them on a ristra, because there's over twenty on this plant!

 Mr. Bear and I stumbled across a picnic table and two benches at a thrift store, which is fantastic because we have been lacking in seating for our gatherings this year. With the garden party coming up this Sunday, we found this at the perfect time! I love it, I think it looks great with all the plants.

 Ponyo never misses an opportunity to make me feel guilty for paying attention to anything besides her. She has such a tough life, it's hard out there for a pup.

 The sunflower my friend Mokeph gave me as a seedling has blossomed into a gorgeous multi-headed bloom. It makes me smile every time I see it.

 Our cherry tomato plants are also producing prolifically, which is a relief because when they arrived in the mail, there were so close to death that I had to prune back over half the stalk to encourage new growth. They've really taken off, though.

 I keep them next to the pot of basil(that I grew from seed!) so Mr. Bear can grab a cherry tomato and a basil leaf and pop them in his mouth for a bite of pure yum.

I'm starting another basil pot(you really can never have enough), and I've planted another box of radishes and a box of carrots and greens. I finally ripped out the dessicated pea plants and planted sunflowers and mini pumpkins. All the new plants are sprouting already, which makes me hopeful for a late fall harvest before we get into the really cold weather. We're already planning an in-ground garden for next year. Mr. Bear is designing a greenhouse for me, I'm so excited! I'm also reading up on canning and preserving in preparation for a bigger harvest next year. 

I'm sad to see the summer go, but then I remind myself that we're getting into the holiday baking and crafting season, and I feel better.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Trash Can" Potatoes

 At the beginning of the growing season, Mr. Bear built us a potato box. We planted eight seed potatoes in the bottom, and continually mounded up the soil around the growing potato plants until they reached the top. Then we waited. The plants never flowered, and I worried that we would have no potatoes, though I've read that sometimes potatoes form without the flowering.
Once the plants died back completely, I stopped watering them and let them dry out. Then it was time to see what was going on down there all this time!

 Mr. Bear spread out a tarp and up-ended the box.

 We dug around in the soil, looking for our Yukon Golds.

 Our initial finds were quite promising.

 But as we dug, it became apparent that our dreams of heaping pounds of spuds were to remain unfulfilled.

There weren't many, and most of the potatoes were about the size of pearls. Perhaps we should have waited longer. We'll know better for next year.

 Out of our eight seed potatoes, we reaped a modestly-sized bag of baby spuds.

 This is our entire harvest.

 Not much, but enough for dinner.

 Mr. Bear conserved the soil by somehow managing to fold it up in the tarp and dump it back in the box.

I was disappointed by our first try at the "trash can" method, but this is our experimental first year growing food, and we are learning much.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Craftastic Thursdays

I know a very large number of very crafty people. For last couple of months, we've been getting together on Thursday's to craft and socialize, sometimes collaborating on large projects. The location shifts weekly, depending on who can host it at their house and who has a large project that isn't easily transportable.
This week, in addition to working on some things for the upcoming burlesque show, I brought along my craft basket and worked on the Beekeeper's Quilt. I have nearly 40 hexipuffs now, which puts me at about 5% completion. I'm estimating needing around 700 to make a quilt large enough for our large, large bed(Mr. Bear is over six feet tall, you know).

I'm completely obsessed with these squishy little knitted bonbons.

I want to be done already, and have a giant hexipuff quilt to under which to snuggle with Mr. Bear while it snows outside. And maybe there'll be room for Ponyo and Butters, too, though I suspect they would attempt to chew up all my hard work.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Slowly Making the House into our Home

 This past long weekend was very productive here at Ft. McAwesome. Mr. Bear had four days off, and it was bliss having him around all the time. He busted it out on Butters' hutch, and yesterday he managed to make me clean out the library and somewhat organize it.

I'm sad to say in the five months since we moved in, it became a catch-all room for boxes I didn't feel like unpacking, even though we have a storage room in the fully-finished basement where such boxes should have gone. My library was pretty much completely unusable.
But look at it now!!!

It now houses five bookcases, all ready to receive the boxes and boxes of books I have stashed about. I'm such a nerd; the thought of organizing all my books according to my tastes and having them all so accessible...has me salivating.

That ugly ugly chair will get recovered. It will. And someday, when I am not preparing for a big burlesque showcase and am not planning my wedding, I will paint the bookcases and they will be beautiful.

Mr. Bear took the doors off the library closet so I can use it as an art supplies/ music nook. I plan to hang curtains to make it look a little nicer.

My harp and both my violins, including the one that languished, cracked and unplayable, until Mr. Bear surprised me by having it repaired for Christmas. It was a knee-weakeningly romantic gesture, and one that I feel I have yet to properly repay.

While unpacking, I came across a box of tiny ceramic figures that I have had since before I can remember. I do remember playing with them like dolls. Sadly, many were damaged and broken. I have been working on overcoming my pack-rat tendencies, and only kept the ones I really like. I will devise some kind of display for them.

I think the next step after getting the books on the shelves will be finally finally finally framing all the posters and pictures and prints that I have collected and getting them onto the walls. I am very excited about that, as I have not had anything on my walls since I was in high school, and I think my taste has gotten considerably better since then.

Once the library was in a workable condition, Mr. Bear set about making the guestroom functional. Our last house, though teeny-tiny, had very high ceilings, and the loft bed was perfectly usable there. Not so in the new house. Short of cutting the legs out from under the loft bed, the only thing to do was take the mattress down and create a bed below, which is what he did. We've already had guests try out the new arrangement, and they claimed to be comfortable enough.

I also found my plush Ein corgi, of Cowboy Bebop fame. Now I have a real corgi, who was understandably curious about her look-a-like.

Butters is settling into her home very well. Now that she's getting a little older(being 5 months and therefor a surly teenager) I've been reducing her pellet intake and increasing her raw veggies intake. Today I cut up some baby carrots, one of which had a split down the side that made the carrot slices look adorably like hearts.

Munch munch munch. Bunny breakfast!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Newly-Completed Bunny Condo

 Today we moved Butters into her new home, a beautiful hutch that Mr. Bear has been building in the garage. I wish I had a tutorial for you all, but I did not document his work, as he mainly built it while I was busy myself. It is gorgeous, though! And so much nicer than the giant kennel we had her in before.

 Mr. Bear built if from scratch. It's about five feet tall, four feet long, and two feet deep. We bought all the materials(minus the paint) at the hardware store; lumber, floor tiles, decorative trim, wire fencing, hinges, latches. The decorative molding along the bottom was my idea. The whole thing is painted with milk paint, which is the most environmentally-friendly and safe for animals paint you can get, which we actually bought at a woodworking hobbyist shop.

Mr. Bear only used one of the rolls of wire fencing on the hutch, so we'll use the other to fence off areas for her to run, which will be much better than the improvised child gate/suitcase barrier I've been using to keep her in the living room.

The top and the front panels both fold up for ease of cleaning. We will be adding two shelves inside it for Butters to hop on.

 Until we add the shelves, we stretched a pillowcase between those two rods in the back of the hutch, and she has been hopping around on it, throwing her grass everywhere!

We will also be adding a nice matching ramp, we're using a makeshift one made of a plank of wood covered with a towel. She got the hang of it quickly enough.

 I'm terribly impressed with how it turned out. And it fits through the front door in one piece! We found a nice hutch at a thrift store months ago, but it was too big to actually get inside our house. This one is much nicer and fits through a standard size door.

Butters seems happy with it, she's been exploring and playing with her toys, and is now taking a nap in the back of the hutch under her pillowcase canopy. Moving days are exhausting!

Edit 7/4/12: Since an anonymous reader saw fit to submit a comment to the effect that this is animal cruelty, I'd like to clarify that Butters is not confined to her hutch 24/7. She has the run of the house and a large enclosed run in the yard, the hutch is her warren. Rabbits need a place to call their own. The ramp we built her is not pictured here, but we do not keep her locked up. If you'd like to discuss the ethical ramifications of animal domestication with me further, please do so as yourself, and not behind an anonymous comment.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Displaying Your Pasties

My friend Crystal is hosting a burlesque art show at the bar she works at, and while others in the troupe have done actual paintings inspired by their performance art, I went a different route.

After a show, all my pasties tend to just get tossed into a ziploc and end up on the closet shelf. Very occasionally I'll reuse a pair for another act, but since I usually make a new pair for each act I do, I've ended up accumulating quite a collection. I think they're quite pretty, what with all the rhinestones and glitter, and it seems a shame to hide them away. Much better to put them on the walls!

To make my display, I first assembled the burlesque paraphernalia I wanted to show off. In this case, a stack of pasties and a novelty ticket from the last show.

 I bought four frames from the dollar store and used a matte black spray paint we already had to paint them.

 Next, I took some sticky-back foam, which I also already had, and cut it down to fit inside the three smaller frames.

 I peeled off the backing and stuck them to the cardboard backs of the frames.

 Then I played with the arrangement of the pasties inside the frames, making sure they would fit how I wanted them.

 I used hot glue to place them, removing one pasty at a time and using the remaining pasty as a gauge for placement. Once they were set, I popped the back into the frame and secured it with the little metal tabs built into the frame.

 The ticket I simply folded to fit the frame and popped it in. Easy peasy!

After the art show is taken down at the end of September, I'll be hanging these on my wall, along with a selection of other large props and photographs from the shows. Burlesque pride!

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