Homesteading Update: Chicken Mutiny

The homestead has been pretty idyllic with the days getting longer. We celebrated an unseasonably warm February by planting a long-sought-after fruiting red-leaf plum.

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Brave Irene, our Delaware hen, is keeping an eye on those blossoms for good things to come.

We’ll do some grafting and pruning so this lady grows low and bountiful. We popped her in the ground right next to the chicken run so that when and if we can’t keep up with the plum glut, they’ll be easy to toss in for the chickens.

Ah yes. The chickens. Those longer days have turned our 0 or 1 egg days into 3 or 4 egg days, so omelettes are back in season! But along with our egg bounty came The Mutiny. It started innocently enough. I peeked into our nest box one afternoon and found a cracked egg. While I sighed over the loss, I wondered if any of the girls had helped themselves to a sample. Somebird must have. In the following days, instead of eggs, I found yolky wet spots in the nest box.

I’d heard about this dreaded development–the Marxist chicken revolution. Apparently, once chickens get a taste for their own eggs and owning the means of production, the habit can be pretty hard to break. I tried collecting eggs more often and put some golf balls in the nest box as a decoy. This did not break their revolutionary spirit. Yolky wet spots abounded.

I suspected Mavis, our Auracana. She was the sweetest little sweety as a pullet, sitting on my shoulder and burrowing into my hair for comfort.

Gone are the days of my sweet little Mavis.

Gone are the days of my sweet little Mavis.

She tossed that meek fragility aside in her old age. These days, she rules the roost with an iron beak, so to speak. The ruthless glint in her eye says, “Given the opportunity, and if I had them, I’d kill you with my bare hands.”

So I couldn’t stop a satisfied “I knew it!” from escaping my mouth the day I caught Mavis in the act, gulping down broken shell with the glisten of yolk on her beak. After that, I stomped into the house and broke out the big guns: emptied some store-bought eggs and coated the insides of the shells with dijon mustard. I popped those little dijon bombs back in the nest box and thought I might have won when Mavis rejected the shells after a single, suspicious peck.

Instead, she got a recruit. The next day, Mavis and Rosie were at it together. And LemonCake might have been in on it too. Mutiny. I was incensed. I fantasized about slitting chicken throats to protect the daily food source for my lean, sunburnt family, just trying to survive out on the frontier.

Luckily, my smart homesteader friend R, the one who used to have the goats we milked, offered an alternative to death: the rollaway nest box.

IMG_3974AJ and I spent all of Sunday retrofitting, and I am proud to say that our frontier spirit prevailed! We set the nest box floor at an incline, so that once the deed is done, the egg rolls via padded board into a slot which empties into a padded aluminum paint tray.

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Brave Irene seeks out the camera yet again.

I am proud to report that our frontier spirit prevailed! No yolky wet spots for the past 3 days. Means of production successfully wrested from Mavis’ crafty beak.

Top 5 toddler toys that aren’t toys

1) Stroller wheels

The upright stroller is so yesterday. Need to muck out the chicken coop? Get some gardening done? Wolf down the danish you’ve been hiding in your bag so you don’t have to share? Might I recommend the upside-down or side-lying stroller.

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My feral children find spinning the wheels to be mesmerizing. And they pick up all sorts of immune-boosting bacteria to boot.

Here’s an example of how we like to use the upturned stroller in everyday life.

Though it looks like they keeled over from sheer excitement as they watched us put the finishing touches on our chicken run, our strollers were actually just falling in line for a 1-year-old’s wheel spinning bonanza.

 2) Pot with lid and other stuff

Your kid isn’t obsessed with taking lids off of pots and putting things inside, putting the lid on, taking the lid back off, taking everything out and then starting over again? That’s just because you haven’t given her the opportunity! Add spoons or tongs or trucks and voila! You just created a toddler project. And she might be at it for 20 minutes or more.

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You know what that means. Dishes washed. Strange crust scraped off of table. And maybe, just maybe, some texting in the corner where she can’t see you.

3) Baby snot sucker thing

Behold! The most revered and requested bath toy in our house:

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With it, you can suck whole milliliters of snot out of your baby’s nostrils. But no, that’s not all!! In subsequent years, it doubles as a tub toy that delights for hours. Since the various parts detach from each other, you can watch as your children suck up bathwater and spit it out through the clear tubing like a whale with a blowhole! Listen as they bubble and splurt water out of the blue, egg-shaped chamber, and let your mind be transported to that college dorm room, the glow of Christmas lights on Frank Zappa posters, the intermittent gurgle of bong water.

*Bonus* Plastic tubing also works as a siphon. With only a small cup on your bathtub ledge and some suction, your children can explore the miracle of atmospheric pressure.

*Warning* Persistent bath play with this product can lead to mold growth in the clear tubing as seen above. A pipe cleaner and some soap can do the trick. Or you can take a page from the stroller wheel playbook and let those kids keep on immune boosting.

4) Canning jar rings

While I cannot speak to the use of these in terms of food preservation–we haven’t actually canned anything in years (fingers crossed for plum season 2015)–I can attest to their usefulness to a 1 year old.

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They make a tinny clatter when you pour them out for the 30th time on the kitchen floor. They spin around on their ends sometimes. They are bracelets.

5) And last but not least:

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Think scissors are a terrible toy for your toddler? Think again. There is so much learning and fun to be had with these. Last week, I cleaned the entire house while Cal tried to cut his own fingernails with them. After we bandaged his bloody fingers, he cooked me a delicious roasted turkey supper. Then he built a fire in our wood burning stove and performed Hamlet’s soliloquy as I warmed my feet on the hearth.

And if you believe that, then stay a while, and I’ll tell you another one.

True, I allow my kids to drink their bathwater through *slightly* moldy snot-sucker tubing. But even I have my limits.

Cal can’t play with these till he’s 3.

The swoon and growl of baby making

I spent the morning with a friend whose 2 boys are the same age as mine–her first is 9 days older, her second is 9 days younger. I love the symmetry there.

She’s rounding out nicely with baby number 3 and told me with a knowing grin that they had the test–it’s another boy and we laughed and joked. She admitted that sure, there’s a pull she feels towards having a girl, but the boy will be just fine, she’d expected it. A couple of times, after running over to distract her middle son from overly smother-hugging another kid, she said, “I must be crazy. I don’t want another baby.” This was the ‘I don’t want another baby’ of the ‘I’ll totally have the baby, but Lord, what was I thinking?’ variety. The anticipation of something you know will be both joyous and hellish. Admitting you might have been overly optimistic before sperm met egg. You can see now that this thing you made will take what you have and then some.

And before that, I stood on the sidewalk listening to another pregnant friend, who also just found out she’s having another boy. I hugged her for a long time and let her have her anguish. I knew how much she wanted a girl. I saw the craving and dream in her eyes as we sat with our boys in the sand one afternoon. Given the teeny-tinyest Godly spark, her energy and intention and manifesting magic would have crafted a fully formed and smartly dressed girl baby right there in the sandbox between us. But instead, she made a baby the heterosexual way, and his penis and scrotum, or whatever comes before those are fully formed, are floating all sea-anenome-like in his watery cocoon. I found a strange comfort in her wrecked grief.

Maybe because it balances out the giddy joy I see in other pregnant ladies that I can’t relate to–rather, could relate to but can’t anymore. Maybe because it carves out ever more emotional territory for all of us in a life that can seem one day magical and fated and the next utterly bereft.

There’s something about that time on the verge of creation when you just open up your arms to the sky in welcome. And then boom. The shift into form–from the hazy fluff of what might be into the sure and solid thud of what is.

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“Tiny Roots” by Todd Moon

There’s such a thrill to the idea that you could make a whole, alive person. And sometimes a terror in realizing you have.

Creation is no joke.

Given the chance to root, it so greedily becomes its own thing. Just like we did once, inside our own mothers.

Why complaining makes me happy

I’m an excellent faker.

Surface, social me is deeply devoted to lots of smiling and genuine, Mid-Western eye-contact. My interactions are all unconsciously coated in a thick glaze of I-exist-to-make-sure-you-feel-fantastic. I exude happy and approachable, regardless of my internal state.

During sophomore year of college, a friend formed the outline of a rectangle with his thumbs and pointer fingers, and he looked at my face through the frame. “You? Depressed?” Then he shook his head in disbelief. Actually, I was horribly depressed that endless, grey winter. I flirted briefly with the thought of suicide and wept in a bathroom stall.

During that time and every time I’ve felt bad since, the thing that makes me feel most crazy, most removed and despondent and numb and afraid is when people think I’m fine.

Thankfully, I don’t feel so misunderstood anymore.

I’ve learned to complain.

I’ve learned to inject some aliveness and truth into the litany of the How Are You’s. Like last week, at my office. “Well, I’m pretty terrible actually. Cal screamed bloody murder about his awful diaper rash most of the night, and I feel like a twitchy Army Vet with PTSD. How are you?” And then I walk on with my coffee cup to my desk. Feeling like a whole, real person.

I know this whole idea would be a lot more palatable if I called it “truth-telling” or “venting” or “being honest.” But those are Have A Nice Day words for what I’m actually doing. The thing that helps me feel redeemed and engaged and more happy with my life is complaining.

Since before Christmas, I’ve been in and out of some dark days. Feeling trapped by parenthood, bitterly resentful towards AJ, tired and bored. I fell into a conversation with my mom over our holiday, and she said, “Well, it just seems like things are going really well for you.” I refused to take the Faker Bait. “Actually, things aren’t going that well. I’ve been having a really hard time.” And then I cleared out every gripe I could find, and laid them all at her feet, like evidence. It was cathartic to set things straight. With my angry little pile of troubles taking up some space between us, I felt known by my mother. It felt good.

So why does complaining, that life-giving art that I’ve recently discovered, get such a bad rap?

Duh. Everyone hates a complainer. Even I hate a complainer.

But there’s a difference between complaining and being a complainer. Being a complainer is looking at the world through sad, complainer glasses, where everything you see is some degree of sucky. Complaining, rather, is sharing about the sucky things that are happening in your life at that moment. You can choose to engage in complaining or not. And the minute you’re done complaining, you can do some reflecting or celebrating or enjoying. That’s the great thing about verbs. And complaining.

There’s also this:

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You need not look far to find dozens of reasons how and why you should commit to your own happiness through gratitude, not sweating the small stuff and looking on the bright side. If we all took these directives to heart, perhaps ours would be a world of happy, appreciative, stress-free, smiling people. I suspect a significant number of them would be secretly crying in bathroom stalls and thinking about suicide between gratitude sessions.

I think gratitude is incredibly helpful. It can re-frame all sorts of things and breathe life into cold, hard places. In our current cultural moment, it’s offered as a cure-all, and like any tool, sometimes it’s not suited for the job. Gratitude is not my go-to choice when I’m strung out on sleep exhaustion, angry at my husband and a good friend asks how I’m doing. Complaining is. That’s because it helps me feel known. It acknowledges my current reality. It takes the air out of my angry, resentful, pitiful place, which frees up some space that can be filled with other things, even–gasp–gratitude.

Gratitude and complaining are different tools for the same job–both have the ability to connect us with our lived experience and people we care about. Depending on the situation, both tools can have the exact opposite effect. Noticing things I’m grateful for when I’m swimming in pitiful seas might give me some perspective and remind me that there are also nice things within reach. Listing gratitudes can also make me feel angry, invisible, patronized, lonely and misunderstood. Same goes for the complaining–it can be alternately liberating or toxic.

Since I’ve been having a pretty crappy time of it, complaining has been my tool of choice. And it’s done quite a job. Again and again, I’ve found myself basking in a post-complaint glow where I’m lighter, kinder and feel more love and appreciation. Take that, gratitude.

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Photo, once again, by Oakley Originals.  Complaining by me.

 

 

Not close to enough but I wrote it anyway

A kindred writer friend of mine died recently. She stoked my writing by giving me a regular platform at her edgy magazine-turned-blog, Get Born. She and the tribe I found there swore and laughed ugly and helped me feel less and more crazy in all the ways I’ve needed.

For my regular post this month, I joined the tribe in writing about Heather.

How do you fully sum up someone and what they meant to you after their death?
You don’t.
Because you can’t…

Read the rest at Get Born.

And then you can do yourself a favor and read some of Heather’s posts–this one’s a doosey, just like she was.

Mom plots escape from dishes, toddler

Way back when I only had one child, I got pretty devoted to that setup.

When I saw people with more than one kid or considered my life that way, I would shake my head or cringe or feel nauseous.

My body was quick to react to my worries. How could Distractable Me pay attention to two whole, independent, needy children? I considered a life where I was always chasing something—the conversation I wasn’t having, the connection I wasn’t getting, the moment I was missing. Cringe-worthy indeed.

I was right to be worried.

There is no such thing as fairness or equality in mothering. I don’t love my kids the same way. I don’t pay the same amount of attention to each. Depending on the day, the hour, the phase, I prefer to connect with one and avoid the challenges with the other. And then, when I factor my needs and desires into this crowded picture? Woa, Nelly. Good luck. I spend a very significant amount of time stomping my resentments around: that I don’t get enough time—to write, hang out with AJ in that spontaneous way we used to, check my phone, sleep, not wash dishes…

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Kitchen Bride by Barbara Butkus. You may remember this doosey of a photo from the Mommy Asana photo challenge a while back.

The dishes are relentless. I am always aware of them. And no matter how angry or accepting I am, they just rest in their plastic white tub, the crust of egg curling up, tipped at an angle by the glasses and spoons and bottles and soggy zip lock bag beneath them.

Cal is persistent and driven. Also relentless. I try to cook and he clings to my legs, screaming UUUPPPPPP! I ask him to please stop taking spoons out of the drawer and he just starts throwing them onto our tile floor with more joie de vivre. He does all the things that toddlers do to drive parents crazy. And it’s had me avoiding him like the plague.

I’m pissed off. And I just want Cal and the dishes and all this shit that I have to deal with to go away so I can sit in a silent room with a bowl full of grapes.

Since I don’t have a silent room or a bowl full of grapes, I do the next best thing: I pack my day full of friends and errands and watching the kids but not really having to connect with them. I distract myself. By the end of the day, the damned dishes are still leering and Cal is as feisty as hell. It grates at me–knowing that those things are still chasing me and I feel more depleted than ever.

Once again, I’ve painted myself into this tight, bitter corner that I’ve found my way in and out of a zillion times before. I know how to get out–the things that torment me grow smaller and softer when I pay more attention to them, not less. Ugh. It’s such an un-sexy, tedious solution.

If I just did the stupid dishes and built time into our evening to talk to Cal and acknowledge his needs, then I might not be so desperate for the silence or the grapes. Because the dishes would be washed, and Cal might tone down the screaming if he felt I was listening.

The only way out is through.

Underwear Update

Remember my magical, unemployed, underwear-making friend Lauren? It wasn’t so long ago that you all helped to give her a much needed boost. Thanks to all of you, Lauren had what she defined as the only underwear rush she’s ever had. Underwear positively flew off of her shelves. You all are the greatest, and I got to beam with every excited text I got from Lor saying that another pair had just been bought.

Then a friend of mine was inspired to host an underwear party (such a thing exists?!! well, now it does.) featuring Lauren’s creations at her house. She got free underwear for hosting, and we all got to check out the dreamy colorful ice-cream shop of fabrics to choose from. (Bay Area friends: this could be you.)

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And elastic! I never knew elastic could be so appealing.

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At the underwear party (!), somewhere between my Red Jewel cocktail and the molten chocolate cupcakes (!!) and swooning over the creativity of my dear friend, I snatched up these beauties.

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They’re so comfortable that I forget I’m wearing them. And here’s the thing that really *killed* me when I opened them up the next day: I could feel the heart she invests down to the smallest details.

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After reading this, I felt like I’d sat down and had a life-giving, leisurely cup of coffee with my underwear. I got a little teary when I saw the bit about 10% going to a womens’ sewing program in Kenya. Now you see why it’s important for me to have Lauren in my life. My instincts–even when money matters are fine–tend towards stingy, selfish miser. But Lor keeps sewing women in Kenya in mind even when moving out of her apartment and into a friend’s basement while she continues to look for a job.

So there you have it. You’ve been properly thanked. Lauren has been deservedly supported. I hope you can hear my deep sigh of satisfaction here. And if you happen to know of someone who might need some Lemon Ice or Green Apple or High Tea underwear in her life, now you know where to find them.

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Homesteading update: eggs

Let me catch you up on the chickens.

In short, they’ve grown up. Sometime in July, Goldie layed her first egg. She graced it upon our neighbor who was chicken-tending during our victorious summer of camping.

I’ve never experienced the chicken coming-of-age transition before, and let me tell you it is A Thing. In the days before The First Egg, the girls were small, skitterish, made little peeps and clucks, and made staying out of our way their main business. Here is what our neighbor relayed to me about The Day of The First Egg. Before she’d  even discovered it, she knew something was going on. The ladies were strutting and squawking like narcissistic high school seniors at prom.

Bless our neighbor for recounting this by shuffling around our front yard with her elbows angled just so, her neck bobbing out and in, and for saving the first few eggs for us to see. She intuited that this was also a very big moment for me. It was.

I crooned over them. They were so perfect and small. Little starter versions of real, live eggs.

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And they were delicious. It was a miracle to see them sputtering to white in the cast iron skillet I inherited from my grandmother.

Over time, the eggs have gotten bigger, and now they’re your standard medium/large that you get at the supermarket. Except for the fact that they’re a sepia rainbow. And Mavis’ are always this amazing blue-green color and more oblong than the rest.

We’ve also gotten a few whoppers. Like one from this morning that we cracked open to find 2 yolks inside.

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When I first layed eyes on it, I audibly winced. I hope she did some deep breathing when that one was coming out.

Now, our gals are routine and established layers. We usually get 3-5 eggs per day. The bounty is amazing.

And of course I have slipped into the mundane routine of it all, but I still get shocked into awe by the cycle we’re part of. We throw our cast off cheerios and weeds and apple cores and rotting pumpkins into the run (in addition to their pellets and scratch), and in exchange, these birds make us food and fertilizer. Every effing day. That daily wheel of give and take brings me back to the human animal I am. And even though I can be found hemming and hawing in bed about having to go outside to let the chickens out, I can also be found whispering “thanks gals” into the nest box in the afternoon.

Really. Thanks gals. You’re doing a bang up job.

Why I grow roots when my toddler tantrums

We have a new contender for Most Challenging Kid in our house.

I’m relieved about the switch over. That is to say, it’s sweet to preference Jo for a change. I never thought I’d say this, but Jo is just so reasonable. And even when he’s unreasonable, he and I have been there and back so many times that we just know how it goes.

Alternately, Cal is developing into his own little power pack of a person. Compared to Jo, I hardly know him. When Cal is happy, it’s a dream. He waves at every person, airplane and truck.  He scritches his nose up, closes his eyes into little slices with a grin, and cackles like a heavy smoker. He walks like Godzilla, flinging his soft pink arms around. But let me give you a word of advice about Cal: don’t take away his keys. Or rather, if you choose to take away the keys so you can open the front door, get ready, because he’s going to cue up his gutteral misery scream and then when you put him down he’s going to throw himself onto his face on purpose, scratching violently at the floor.

We had quite a morning.

I sort of remember this with Jo, but I think that he didn’t tantrum this much at this age. What I do remember was tiptoeing around all day trying to avoid the equivalent of taking away the keys. It sort of worked but I got pretty anxious, constantly scanning for anything that might induce 1 year old upset. I eventually learned the style I use now, which is not to tip toe, but to tell it like it is.

I know you wanted to go swimming, but we’re not swimming today. You can tell me how mad you are about that…<insert scream/fling/scratch/kick> …Yep. I know you’re mad and disappointed. You really want to go and we’re not going swimming.

And, as you may have heard, I got some new ideas through this rad parenting class in the last year. I took the class cause I was at my wits end with Jo, and I remember thinking how awesome it would be to use some of the things I learned with Cal. But at the time, Cal was a smiley, sleepy, doughy infant without a tantrum in sight. Suffice it to say, these days I’m getting to try some of the stuff I learned with Cal. Here’s what works for me.

  1. When I notice Cal is amping up, I briefly check in with myself and decide if I have the energy to do this whole shebang. If not, I give him keys or my phone or let him play in the car while I sit there since I don’t have to be anywhere just then. Or I hand him to someone.
  2. If I do decide I have the energy, I tune into Cal and imagine myself growing roots deep into the ground. I literally do this. It helps me feel stable and calm. (No one I know would ever describe me as stable or calm. I am neither. This is where the roots come in. They help me lean more in that direction.)

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    Photo by Kim Seng

  3. I get down on Cal’s level and make sure he can make eye contact with me whenever he wants.
  4. I let him rip through his tantrum.

I did this after we got back from the grocery store today. I tip-toed as long as I could through the produce section. Gave him my phone in the canned vegetable aisle and then thankfully the butcher shop had a ceiling fan. When the butcher asked me what I needed, I actually said “5 lbs of ground beef and a valium.”

On the drive home, I knew without a doubt that we were headed straight to trantrum-ville. I decided that I did have the energy to listen to him. Before ye olde melt down, I managed to get in a phone call with a friend while unloading the groceries, but then I needed the keys. For the door. I’m guessing my friend could hear me saying I needed to go over Cal’s bloodcurdling scream fest. I hung up the phone. And got down on the floor.

It probably took about 6 minutes all told. He screamed and flung himself. He scratched at his snotty face. He looked at me sometimes. I talked to him a little bit. At this point, I had already given him the keys back but it wasn’t really about the keys anymore. He needed to freak out. So I let him. After about 3 minutes of him screaming and me listening and imagining my roots growing ever wider and deeper, I had an impulse to open my arms. When Cal is upset, he usually pushes me away, so I’ve gotten used to being near but not touching him. I had my arms open for about 3o seconds while he cried and looked and considered. And then he walked over and sat in my lap and kept crying. He slowed down enough that he said a word. One of his Cal words that I can’t understand. He sputtered down into silence. Then I offered him some smoothie. He drank some. And it was over.

We spend the next half hour before naptime chatting and eating yogurt and granola. The storm passed.

This is only my 2nd or 3rd experience of what this looks like with Cal, but I must say, it WORKS. When I have the energy, I like handling his tantrums this way because it’s how I like people to handle mine. If AJ tries to distract me from feeling upset, it pisses me off. I get distant and cold when he tries to talk me out of it or give me advice. The best times, always, are when he just listens. And I blubber. And everything crescendos into tears. Only then can I really move on. And then I actually do feel better.

How my friend makes magic and underwear

Magic is a big topic of conversation in our house these days. I stumbled upon it as a great way to explain to Jo some of the finer mysteries of life. A tree’s magic is that it can grow up so strong and tall and not fall down, the power-drill’s magic is that it can make screws turn around so fast. Lo and behold, Jo has magic of his own. I like dwelling on his more utilitarian magic–turning anger that wants to kick me into punching a pillow. He prefers more, well…magical magic. Like spinning a necklace into a ninja fire ball thrower.

I bring up magic, because I want to tell you a story about my friend Lauren.

Lauren has lots of magic.

I’ve known her since early days—when glasses with patterned pastel frames were commonplace. She wound up being the one person from my hometown who went to the small college I chose. And during those confused, elated, depressed years, she was my touchstone. I would call her sometimes just to say, “I need you to remind me who I am.” And she would.

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Here we are. I remember how excited we were that we made the very privileged, all-color pages of our high school yearbook.

She also saved me once. My senior year of college, I careened into this stark reality: if one doesn’t work over Christmas break and has very little savings, then one will not have money to pay February’s rent. In a panic, I dropped my part in the student-written play (a modern take on math and iambic pentameter!) so that I could take on as many extra hours at the coffee shop as they could give me. Even so, I knew I’d still come up short.

Lauren was one of the people I confided in about this, because I knew she knew. Unlike many at our fancy liberal-arts college, she knew the pit of worry called “I’m almost out of money.” That’s why it was particularly unexpected when she stepped into my frenzy and said, “God wants to give you $200.” I laughed. Great. Where do I sign up?

She repeated herself, and held out a check to me, signed by her hand.

She explained that every month she saves a little bit of “God Money” and waits for inspiration on what to do with it. She knew I needed it, and it was mine, no strings attached. It was exactly how much I needed to make rent. Her mercy left me in tears.

This is Lauren’s magic.

It inspired me to start my own God Money account. Now I too get to wave a wand over the person of my choosing and sprinkle God Money on them when they most need and least expect it.

Lauren lost her job 3 months ago. It was this really awesome job sewing prototypes of bags for people who need a prototype of a bag sewn up for them on some big industrial sewing machine. Turns out that there isn’t enough work sewing bag prototypes, and so she was laid off.

To say the least, it has been a sucky time for her, but she’s still doing her thing. She stares reality right in the face, feels every jab it has to offer and saves back enough lightness for her magic.

As she recently wrote in a blog post of her own,

i could tell you all the things i’ve done to meet people and make connections and find work, but this isn’t really about that. i just want to tell you how it feels.

job hunting is like doing a job i hate and am terrible at and then not getting paid for it. it’s grueling, merciless, impersonal. i want connection and satisfaction and rest. i never imagined a full-time job would feel like rest.

In the doldrums of The Grueling and The Merciless and The Impersonal, she makes underwear. Awesome, up-cycled underwear that has its own personality and name. Meet “Let’s Get Physical.”

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(YES! We made it to the underwear part of the story.)

I keep expecting, week after week, to get a text from Lor with lots of exclamation marks, declaring that she finally got one of the jobs she’s applied for, but no dice.

What I do hear from her is that she’s having to move out of her apartment and into a friend’s basement to save money. And then I pop open my Instagram and see that she just made these:

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Name for these beauties? Green Milk Glass.

I think even Jo would agree with me–that there is some magic.

Lauren is the brand of Creative Person who has remarkable patience and attention to detail. She reads all the instructions before she tries something new. And then she goes slowly. With intention. She’s inclined towards things that require a calm, precise, steady hand like sewing. (I am nothing like this. And that is one of the reasons I adore her. I’m the bull in the china shop. She’s the … er … china maker?!)

I remember her telling me about this pair of underwear she had made for herself months ago and how insanely comfortable it was. I chuckled. Homemade underwear and comfort were not two ideas I had considered in the same sentence before.

She kept at the underwear thing in exactly the same way I’ve watched her quietly stick with things I’d give up on after 5 minutes. She kept slowly and deftly improving, until she was so reliably churning out delightful, comfy undies that she decided to hang up her shingle.

Lately, she gets some satisfaction in creating these beauties. Thank God, in the dark times of unemployment and job application rejections, that she has her underwear.

You may be picking up on my original and very sneaky reason for telling this story. I wanted to throw a virtual underwear party–to inspire you to buy some of Lauren’s Superpowerstudio Underwear for yourselves and for your homemade-underwear-loving friends, because I adore Lauren and want her magic to circle back to her so that she can, say, afford an ice cream cone now and then during these heavy, unemployed times. I do hope you’re inspired, and that your bottom and your friends’ bottoms get to share in the joy.

I mean, wouldn’t you shriek with delight if someone gave you these?!

oregami

I mean, she even folds the stuff like origami.

But after telling her story here, I see that the magic I can offer her is much bigger than that.

Lauren, I started out wanting to motivate underwear buyers (and I hope they come in droves!) but even more than that, I want to give you the gift of being seen. I have watched you these past months. You’ve shown gratitude and honesty in the bleak face of uncertainty. I know the days have been heavy and long and lonely. And in the midst of it all, you keep showing me what grace looks like. (As if teaching me mercy was wasn’t enough!!) Grace looks like creating dinosaur underwear in the midst packing up the apartment you love but can no longer afford.

DinoPow indeed, old friend.

You flounder and flail just like the rest of us. And you spin unemployment into underwear.

I could watch your magic show all day.

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