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Intro to newcomers:

Wow, what a turnout! Thank you for stopping by! I realize your time is valuable, and things are a little crowded, so let me start with a few disclaimers so those who wish to can leave right away. Read more...Collapse )

Jul. 4th, 2015

For probably as long as you've known me, I've struggled with regulatory limitations on our farm. In Joel Salatin's words, "Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal." With your help, that can finally change.

The major hurdle on our farm has been restrictions on raising animals. I used to rent an apartment in the city where I could have a little garden, but no livestock. Then we bought a house in a little township enclave, outside the jurisdiction of the city. It was on a quarter-acre, and we got chickens. That was okay for a few years, then the county said we didn't have enough land. We bought close to five acres and I moved the chickens there. That was okay for a few years, as the county didn't object to anyone having livestock as long as they had more than an acre. But then, between predators and human thieves, my chickens and a lot of other stuff got stolen, because it was all at a house a couple blocks away from where we lived. I fixed up the house and my family moved in, so I'd be present day and night to guard everything...but then the county changed the rules and said an acre wasn't enough anymore. Now, if you have less than five acres, you can't have more than a total of 24 chickens, ducks, and rabbits. All other livestock is prohibited.

There's a vacant lot next door to us, owned by the county land bank, that will put us well over five acres if we buy it. Over six, actually. And according to long-standing state law, once you have more than five acres, neither the county nor the township can regulate agriculture on your land. The only regulatory agencies with jurisdiction at that point are the state and national health departments, departments of agriculture, and the EPA.

At the very least, I want to get back into selling eggs again. I'd like to raise chickens and ducks. I'd like to breed chickens to sell chicks to backyard hobbyists in the area (there are a lot of them). Given how overgrown our woods are with invasive plants like multiflora rose and Japanese honeysuckle, I'd like to have some goats. My customers have been asking for turkeys for years, my wife wants us to raise at least enough pork for our own use. To do ANY of this, we need to buy that land next door, and the land bank is finally offering to sell it to us. Or, I should say, they've invited me to submit an offer. They say there's one other party interested in buying it. Since the land bank is interested in doing what's in the best interests of the community, it doesn't sound like it's going to be a straight bidding war, because how the land will be used factors into their decision. I don't know what the other person wants the land for.

We've got some money in savings (left over from our tax refund) and we've secured a small loan, but we want to be able to offer more money and be able to show the land bank that there's wide support for us farming this land. As such, I've started an Indiegogo campaign. If you want to see a fully functioning, integrated farm working in a major city; if you want Columbus to have a place where people can buy local food and gather to share skills and ideas about sustainable living; if you want an example of urban agriculture that serves as a model to others of how to create their own jobs growing food in the city, then please click the link and contribute.


Idle Capital

Mayda found a guy to take down the two big, dead ash trees at Kirsten's house, and he'll cut it up and haul it over here for us to use as firewood. I'm going to do the smaller, third one myself before he does, and leave it there for him to haul. But we needed a place to put all that wood, and I haven't yet built a woodshed, so Mayda came up with the idea of turning what used to be my second hen house ("Egg 2") into a woodshed. This meant I had to move some other stuff out of it, and I had to clean up other places so I had somewhere to move that stuff to.

In doing this, I moved $600 worth of plastic chicken crates and a $35 automatic chicken waterer. These are crates I have no birds to put into, and no working truck to load them onto. The waterer presently does nothing. And unless we get the land next door, it's going to stay that way. Same for the $900 picker I've got in the barn over at Kirsten's. I spent an entire spring fixing up this shed and got a $400 nesting box stolen out of it. But at least we'll have a woodshed.

It's the middle of March, and I still haven't planted anything. I should have had trays under lights a month ago. As I put the chicken crates away into the pole barn ("Egg 1"), I saw not only the disused roosts and nesting boxes, but the coils of drip line that I paid for and so painstakingly rolled out and staked into place under plastic last year to water the tomatoes, only to end up never actually connecting it to any water. (I forget whether I was missing a connector or something was leaking or what.) I have rain barrels scattered all over, but no gutters to feed them. That, at least, I can do something about. But the chicken stuff...it just breaks my heart to see so much money and hope sunk into stuff I can't do anything with. I see that and get discouraged and it just saps away any energy I had to work on anything else. I kept going anyway, but it was hard to feel good about it.

Bit by bit, little projects like this will get the place cleaned up and closer to being fixed, but none of it produces any revenue. None of it gives me a product to sell. I'm reading a book, a post-apocalyptic thing, where the characters are defending farms against bandits, and I'm reading about people trading hundreds of pounds of corn for things they need, or about their livestock feeding them and providing them an income. I went to the OEFFA conference and mingled with all these people whose farms actually earned them money, and it just makes me feel so left out, like I'm the kid who got sent to baseball camp with no bat and no glove. But for the analogy to be more accurate, it's more like I have the bat and the glove and plenty of other equipment besides, but I'm not allowed to play.

I noticed that the county auditor has listed the southernmost parcel of the land next door as a separate address from the other two. I'm wondering if the land bank is going to sell that one to the school and the other two to me. I contacted the guy I've been talking with at the land bank. I emailed him Saturday. We'll see what he says.

Tree Tapping

So far I'm quite liking this tree tapping business. It's like trapping, only better. You go out scouting the woods in warm weather. Then when it's cold, but not the coldest of the year, you take your tools out and make your sets. Then you check them all once or twice a day and carry home your yield. But the trees, so far, have yielded far better than my trap sets ever did, and if you're late checking a tap, the worst that happens is that the bottle overflows. (I'm gonna save one-gallon milk jugs for next year.) And though I haven't actually boiled down any sap yet, I expect that evaporating is going to be a lot more pleasant than skinning, fleshing, and stretching pelts. It's also far less likely (I really hope) that thieves will steal my taps and sap bottles or that people will make it an ideological crusade to interfere with what I'm doing.

This year, I'm just doing this to teach myself how and to see whether it's worth the trouble to make a little syrup or sugar for us, but next year, I may get ambitious and try to make enough syrup to sell. I think especially if I use a cordless drill instead of a brace-and-bit, and if I use my cart to gather the sap jugs, I could spread out through the rest of the forest (beyond our borders) and gather quite a bit. If I planned ahead a little and found a source of burlap bags or something similar, I could even camouflage the taps and bottles so as not to draw attention to them.

Rage and Salvation

I think that people who have suffered have an easier time sympathizing with people who are suffering, and people who feel they've been treated unjustly tend to be more upset when they see injustice toward others.

When someone who hasn't had any serious trouble in their life sees someone who is having a rough time, their tendency is to keep their distance and rationalize why it could never happen to them, as though being compassionate puts one at risk of misfortune. But when a person who has been through trouble sees someone else struggling, it can be triggering. Even if they've overcome their own hurdles, if they see someone else facing obstacles, it's a reminder that those obstacles still exist.

When those obstacles are an abstract, or a natural phenomenon, like illness, there's only so much you can get worked up about them. You might hate cancer, say, but there's never the sense that cancer hates you back. But when there's a conscious agent behind the trouble--say, when the trouble is how other people treat you because of the color of your skin--then I think you've got to be a saint not to hate them, because it's clear that they hate you. When a motherfucker is actively undermining you and making your life worse, it's upsetting in a way that nature just can't be. I mean, whether a hurricane blows your house away or a city council exercising eminent domain bulldozes your house, you're still without your house. But to me, it feels like it's easier to be philosophical about it in the case of the hurricane, whereas the bulldozer demands retribution. A hurricane is unstoppable. It's a powerful natural force and you just need to learn to work around the fact that it exists. But politics, especially in a so-called democracy, that's something we're supposed to be able to alter and influence. Someone can choose not to bulldoze your house. There should be a way out. There's at least the theoretical possibility of victory when you go toe-to-toe with a human opponent. And that, I think, amplifies the pain that much more. Being victimized by another person, or a group of them, makes one feel even more vulnerable than one already is to nature. We all get rained on, but only some of us get bullied.

I see that, for me at least, when I get passionate about a disagreement with a stranger on the internet (or even someone I know well), it's generally because we're disagreeing over a topic where someone is victimized and my opponent is siding with the oppressor. I couldn't care less whether you prefer this sports team over that one, or which muscle car is your favorite. Those choices are of no consequence and thus don't concern me. But when you say that this or that person or group of people ought to be locked up, ought to be fired, ought to be denied rights, ought to be deported, ought to be killed...then you're every son-of-a-bitch that ever did me wrong. You're the teachers who punished me for things I didn't even know had happened. You're the boys who'd sneak up behind me at the urinal and punch me in the kidneys. You're the Army officials who told my mom that if she tried to sue them over my dad's death, her great-grandchildren would never see a dime. You're the aunt who always believed my lying, bratty cousin over me. You're the employer who didn't hire me because I wasn't a woman or wasn't a minority or wasn't a friend of your family. You're the employer who wouldn't hire me because you thought I was too smart and would get bored with the job that I desperately needed. You're the girl who broke up with me because you thought I deserved better. You're the unfaithful wife who dumped me because you feared I would eventually be as infidelitous as you. You're the ex who lied to keep me from seeing my children after a court ordered you to honor my visitation rights. You're the HR official who recommended I be fired because I dug up proof of your malfeasance. You're the department director who approved my termination because you thought I was breaking into your office when I wasn't even aware that anyone had been. You're the bank that delayed my deposit just long enough to charge me a fee for insufficient funds. You're the guidance counselor or military recruiter who funneled me into whatever was convenient for you rather than telling me about opportunities for which I'd have been better suited. You're the teacher who shepherded the rich kids into internships while not telling the rest of us that this was even a possibility. You're the person who destroyed and disposed of things I could have used. You're every person I ever saw harm someone and get away with it. You're the asshole who puts fresh food in the dumpster and pours bleach on it to force hungry people to choose between starvation and poisoning. You're every authority figure who's ever abused their power. You're every person who ever devalued the humanity of another. You're every soldier and executioner who "just followed orders." And Godwin be damned, you are Hitler.

And so their fight becomes my fight. My struggle to not be held back and mistreated, having already hit a brick wall in my own life, finds expression in another fight where it looks like I can win, where just maybe I can argue persuasively enough to drive back the devils that seek to hold back others. The more my own life frustrates me, the more driven I am to remove hurdles for others. This, I believe, is why, when I was trapped on welfare with no prospects in Scioto County, I wrote half the manuscript for a book detailing the many ways in which the Bill of Rights had been violated, but when I had a comfortable job with middle-class pay, my social activism was limited to an occasional appearance at a protest and sharing links on Livejournal. And it's why, now that that job is gone and I find my livelihood dependent on doing things that the law won't allow me to do, I rage once again about the very concept of our economic system. It's why my more comfortable acquaintances see me as mentally unbalanced, and the poor or frustrated ones see me as a preacher.

And I don't think I'm alone. It's sad to say, but I think you can gauge how screwed up a person's life is by how dedicated a Social Justice Warrior they are. Think of PETA and Earth First and all the anti-abortion groups. Those people are absolutely screwed up, but the only people you'll find who are more sincerely passionate about their cause are the ones blowing themselves up for Allah. What do happy, comfortable people do to show they care? They write checks to charities. They participate in a fun run for disease research. They buy shit from businesses that make them feel warm and fuzzy by being green or local or donating a portion of sales to charity. Nothing that actually requires sacrifice. Nothing that causes more than a slight bump in their happy routines. Nothing that's going to traumatize them too badly.

And this is why I find it so hard to relate to middle-class people. It's not that I'm envious. It's that I'm filled with such emotion over situations that they try very hard to not even be aware of. I'm down here in the trenches watching my comrades being gored, while up above us, the shiny, happy people see only a meadow full of flowers where everything is lovely. How do you relate to someone who's in such a stupor? It's frustrating, and it's very hard to draw a line between being frustrated with a person for curtailing their awareness out of a need for psychological self-protection and being angry at them for throwing the rest of humanity under the bus.

It occurs to me that I'm acquainted with an unusual number of published authors, given that I don't work in publishing and I'm not part of any literary fandom. Further, not a one of them are close friends. In fact, I think most of them don't like me, but don't dislike me strongly enough to banish me from their circle of acquaintances. (Well, actually, I think Lasara Firefox did finally unfriend me on Facebook.) But here's the weirder part: I've never read any of their books. It's not like I read some books, sought out the authors, and made their acquaintance. I'm not a writer groupie. Instead, I've just met people, in person or online, who either are authors already or who end up getting published some time after I encounter them.

And now that I'm trying to mentally put together a list of who they all are, most of them are slipping my mind, so I won't embarrass myself by posting a list and forgetting someone. Some of them aren't even on LJ anyway. If you've published something that I've forgotten or am not aware of, I apologize.

I would like to do that. I enjoy writing, and I enjoy the idea of passive income. If being a columnist or doing copy writing is like growing annuals, publishing a book is like growing perennials. You produce it once, do a little regular maintenance on it for the natural life of the plant/book, and just let it keep fruiting. And in the same way that you can use your earnings from one crop to expand, you can use the reputation of one book to aid you in getting another published.

I've heard authors try to downplay that, saying things like, "Oh, I'm far from getting rich. I just get a check for $60 or so once a month."

And I'm thinking, "Yeah? For working how many hours that month? Because at a regular job paying ten bucks an hour, once you figure in commuting, the time to earn the money for your transportation, the time spent caring for work clothes, etc., that's about a full day's work. Shit, I've gotten that amount of money for doing anywhere from a day to a week of hard and dangerous manual labor. Getting a royalty check every month is like owning a serf. Probably why they call it a royalty." Of course, I'm also thinking, "Sixty bucks is more than I earned this month, and probably about the total of what I made selling vegetables last summer. I wouldn't complain about getting that every month for work I did once a couple years ago."

The thing is, I don't feel like I have a book in me. Not one of my own, anyway. I've got lots and lots of other people's books in me, which seems to be the problem. I'm so aware of literary tropes that I don't think I could write an interesting story without feeling like it's just a patchwork of scraps of other people's stories. Same for any kind of how-to non-fiction. Unless I've invented a unique process for something, I'd feel like I'm just regurgitating stuff that I've already read elsewhere, writing books that have already been written.

But I wonder where I came up with these standards? When I look at a book with instructions on how to build a birdhouse, it's not as though it's the world's first book to have ever had those instructions in it. Tropes are tropes because everybody's using them over and over. I'm continually put off articles I read online, partly because they're poorly written and edited, with misspellings and basic errors of fact, grammar, and reason, and partly because it's stuff I already knew. Maybe I just need to hang around with more ignorant people to get a feel for what they need to read, and count on the fact that I could sell them a book because they don't know someone else already wrote that book.

I'd had plans to write a book with Mayda on business plans, but there were a couple problems. The most obvious one was that I haven't personally tested a successful business plan. I'm fucking poor, so where would I get off telling other people how to get rich? Another was that Mayda wanted to write a different book. I was thinking of stuff I had seen that was written for people wanting to start new businesses in developing countries--one in particular was a clothing factory. I forget whether it was for shirts or jeans or what, but they had the finanacial info, the equipment needed, a floorplan layout for how to set up the factory, etc. That's the kind of stuff I wanted, but for an American audience. Buy this book, pick a plan, get some money to invest in it, start your own business that will actually survive and earn you a profit. But Mayda wanted to narrow it to a much more limited range of business activities. They had to be something green that could be sustained by only the local economy, with no aspirations of expanding to the point of even exporting to neighboring cities in the region. That's a different book. I didn't want to work within those constraints, and she wasn't really interested in working outside of them.

Honestly, I think my niche is probably something like punditry, because most of my writing is editorializing and presenting persuasive or critical arguments. That tends to be very time-sensitive stuff, though, because it's typically about current events, not the sort of thing that lends itself well to working for months on a book and collecting royalty payments for years. In fact, I'm of the opinion that it doesn't lend itself well to writing at all, though I'm well aware of a whole genre of best-sellers that fit that description. Still, unless you're a credentialed authority or an already established public personality like Jon Stewart or Rush Limbaugh, it's hard to sell opinions. I think that whole realm of expression is better suited to video. It's faster to consume and faster to spread. I know I'm not particularly telegenic, though. I need some perky, attractive sock puppet with a nice voice to write scripts for. A Bush to my Rove, an Arthur to my Merlin, Christian to my Cyrano.

A sappy post

I ordered some spiles today. A couple autumns ago, I spray painted Ms and Ws on the maple and walnut trees all over the the property, or at least all along the trails. We're finally coming out of the solid freeze to where the temps will get above freezing during the day and drop back down to (or below) freezing at night, so it's time to tap them. I've never done this before, but these spiles look cool. Instead of being the old-style things that you hang a bucket from, these have plastic tubing running from them to a milk jug on the ground. I'm going to use our old electric skillet to evaporate the sap down to syrup.

Earlier this morning, I was up on the roof cleaning the chimney. The cap had gotten gunked up with creosote, so it didn't really matter than I had cleaned out the tee at the bottom where the stovepipe connects. Somehow (we still haven't figured it out) the smoke was getting out of the flexible flue liner and coming back down the chimney, where it was leaking out between the bricks into our bedrooms. I patched these leaks with mortar several times, hunting down little wisps of smoke with a flashlight, over a period of several days until finally the smoke just started pouring out of the chimney downstairs where we haven't sealed it up yet around the stovepipe. But last night, it rained and stayed above freezing, so the snow was washed off the roof and I could get up there to clean it.

Yesterday was Ammy's birthday, and for some reason, her class didn't have school that day, so she stayed home with me. We went to the grocery store and picked out some cupcakes, and then she got to pick out some plastic rings to decorate them. We played games most of the day, finishing off with a game of chess right before bath time. (Noah coached her, but she's starting to get the hang of it. Noah knows much more about the game than I do, given that he's had formal instruction and he has a lot more enthusiasm about it.)

I like standing on the roof. I can see the whole west half of our property, and it feels more like a farm because I can see big gardens and animal pens and such.


I once wrote that if I ever wrote fiction, I wouldn't have a core group of indestructible characters while their close friends die marvelously scripted deaths and background characters are just disposable, because that's not how life is. That's not how real stories play out. Someone who's fascinating and marvelous in every way can go in a blink. Car crash, aneurism, anything. Poof. Or it can be a long, gory, agonizing death that takes months and makes everyone around them feel awkward. They can be brain damaged into retardation and poop in a bag for a decade before they die. An injury, or just the stress of having to adjust to life after one, can radically alter someone's personality, so that even if you loved them to pieces before they got hurt, you kind of don't want anything to do with them in their last moments. If I was going to write stories that involved death, it was going to be realistic, because it's something I know something about, and I wasn't going to bother making death an element of my stories unless I was willing to really drag the reader along for the full experience.

When I said that, a couple people made reference to George R. R. Martin, which completely went over my head because, while I associate his name with Game of Thrones, I've never seen nor read it. And just now I read theferrett talking about the same thing in reference to Stephen King, Martin, and some author I'd never heard of. One of the commenters was saying that they'd hate reading something like that, because they don't want to risk getting attached to someone who might disappear.

But that's life, y'know? Anyone can disappear, even the main characters, even your favorites. It's not even a question of "if" so much as "when." Your spouse will die. Your parents will die. Your children will die. Every single one of your friends is going to wind up dead. Unless you're killing them yourself, you don't get to pick when any of that happens. It just happens when it happens. Maybe you'll go first and miss all that heartbreak, or maybe you'll have to go through every bit of it. Sometimes you might not get to say goodbye. Sometimes you might not even know it's coming. Then it won't be a matter of beating yourself up about not going to the hospital to visit often enough. It'll be a matter of regretting the last words between you being an argument right before they walked out the door and got hit by a truck.

It's a certainty, so don't think you can protect yourself by not caring. Love is the only thing that gets us through this, and we only get to love so many people while we're here. So don't hold back. Love desperately. Love as though every time you see a person is going to be the last time, because it may well be. Leave nothing unsaid unless you're willing to leave it unsaid for eternity. Everyone you love is going to die, so hurry up and love them quickly before that happens.

Steering clear of Facebook for a few days

I heard on the radio this morning that Los Angeles Police shot a man. He was fighting them. They got him down, he popped back up, and they wrestled him down again. From the audio recorded just before the shots were fired, it sounds like one officer lost his gun. Whether he had it out and dropped it, or his holster failed, or the suspect grabbed it out of the holster, nobody can really say yet. At any rate, the officer yelled that he'd lost his gun and that the suspect had the gun--again, whether he grabbed it off the cop's belt or picked it up off the ground isn't clear, but doesn't really matter. They told the suspect repeatedly to drop the officer's gun. He didn't. So they deployed a Taser. It's unclear whether the probes hit the suspect, or whether they had any effect if they did hit him. There was a shot--we don't know at this point whether it was an officer or the suspect--and then three shots at the suspect. The suspect is dead now.

And I just know that if I open Facebook today, there's going to be a hundred-and-one stupid memes on there claiming "irrefutable evidence" that LAPD "murdered a homeless man because he's black." They'll conjure up every stereotype and bit of misinformation that's ever been spread about police officers, and launch a barrage of angry invective against anyone who dares to disagree with them. And since I'm generally the only person they know who 1) isn't a FOX-watching idiot who will dismiss them as "commie faggots" (or some misspelling thereof), 2) whom they haven't already unfriended on Facebook, and 3) who would dare to refrain from jumping on their cop-hating, lynch-mob bandwagon, that barrage is going to be concentrated in my direction, and people will get worked up enough to say all the ugly things they normally try to refrain from saying. And I just don't need that today.

Moreover, LAPD does have an egregious history of racism against blacks, both in the general public and among their own officers. (Anybody remember Chris Dorner's manifesto? "The department has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King days. It has gotten worse.") If the investigation shows that no officer actually lost his gun and one of them just said that for the beneift of the audio recorder, I won't be shocked. (To be clear, I'm not saying I expect this to be the case, because I don't. I simply wouldn't file this possibility away in the realm of the unthinkable, because I have read of LAPD officers back in the 1980s saying stuff like "The goddam nigger dropped his knife before I could shoot him.") If the investigation finds that one or more officers are guilty of wrongdoing, I'm not gonna cry for them. And if the investigation finds that they didn't, I know that doesn't necessarily settle the matter, given that LAPD has a history of covering for racist officers who use excessive force. However, just because it has happened before doesn't mean that it happens every single time, and just because it's not certain that an internal investigation would come to an honest conclusion, it's no more certain that it would come to a dishonest one.

The trouble is that most of the people I know on Facebook are completely incapable of exercising that kind of impartial suspension of judgement when it comes to police officers. Say anything to that bunch about the IMF, the Fed, the World Bank, or the Democratic Party, and they'll dismiss you as a tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist. But take the same kind of biased accusations, loose associations, and shaky evidence that are normally used against those groups and use them instead to indict The Patriarchy or The White Supremacy Establishment, and these people won't challenge a word of it. I don't like seeing that, but I also don't want to put myself in the position of playing public defender for LAPD. All the more so if they're actually guilty.

So I think I may just avoid that place until the next big distraction comes out. There'll be a photo of some singer's naughty bits or a controversy over what color an article of clothing is, and this'll be as forgotten as the name of that guy who sang that song on that one show back in, y'know, a long time ago. Unless some chucklehead comes out with a cell phone video where the suspect is clearly trying to kill the officers but the narrator's saying, "See? They hasslin' him for NO REASON! Oh, they just tazed him! They tazed him for bein' black! Oh, man, they just shot him, and he was just lying on the ground not doin' nothin'!" and his words will be the gospel truth to that same bunch on Facebook for the next two months while we watch the L.A. Riots part VI.

Operant Conditioning

I told Mayda last night that my entire adult life as far back as puberty most of my life has felt like I'm pushing and cramming and shoving to fit a square peg into a round hole only to get it halfway in and realize I've put it in backwards, and then tugging and twisting and pulling to try to get it back out again. By the time I get that done, I'm back where I started with nothing to show for my effort but a messed up peg, and all the square-peg-in-square-hole and round-peg-in-round-hole people have so much more to show for so much less effort over the same period of time.

And unfortunately, I've been conditioned by this. I'm sitting here procrastinating, with a bunch of things to do and only an hour left to do them before I have to pick up the kids, and I know why.

When you do something, you're supposed to finish with a feeling of accomplishment. You feel you've achieved something, and move on to the next project. Task -> reward

I hardly ever get the reward. I do work, I don't get paid. I clean the chimney so smoke won't blow into the room when we open the stove, and now smoke leaks right through the chimney into the bedrooms. I spend several hours patching holes in the chimney, and it still leaks. I get up throughout the night to tend the fire, the house is still cold. I spend months growing vegetables, and the wildlife eats them, or I pick them and fail to sell them and they go bad in our fridge. I try to fix our vehicles, and we still have to take them to a mechanic and pay hundreds of dollars. When I had a job, I got extra training and went above-and-beyond, but never got promoted. I never get caught up on the dishes or laundry or firewood or construction or anything. It's never like, "Okay, at least THIS room is clean." I get a table cleaned off and have to go do something else, and it's two more weeks before I get back to that room. I make to-do lists broken down into insanely detailed, small tasks sometimes just so I can feel like I have benchmarks I can look at and say, "I got these three things done on my list of 15 things to do."

But even where my efforts aren't eaten alive by incompetence or poor planning, I still have trouble. I told Mayda last night, what bothers me more than the risk of failure is the risk of punishment. I fear regulation more than failure. I told her, I feel confident that I can build a structure that won't fall down, that will keep the weather out, and that will serve its functions for the people inside it. But I fear that if an inspector takes one look at it, he's gonna be like, "No, no, this is wrong, that's all wrong. You need to tear down this whole thing and start over. And by the way, you can't live here anymore and you have to pay a fine everyday until you build it correctly, using materials you don't have the money to buy."

And so I get stuck. Say I have four different things to do. Normally, I'd enjoy having the freedom to choose for myself, and the freedom to move from one project to another as Ilike. But now, it's like I think of a task I'd least dislike doing, and think, "No, that's not the best investment of my time," because something else is more urgent, so I skip to the urgent thing, but then realize I'm not going to be able to finish in the time available, and spending what little time I have on a project that's going to be left incomplete seems unwise, so I sacrifice that one and move onto something else. But I can't do the next thing until several conditions are met (I need materials, someone's approval, other stuff moved out of the way, etc.), and so my list gets longer instead of shorter.

Here's a present example: Last year, I got some Glass Gem corn seeds from a Facebook friend. These things were going for obscene prices online, and I traded this lady a bag of wild-harvested mint seed for them. I grew the corn, tended it carefully, got a modest crop out of it, and hung it up to cure. My plan was to sell the seeds online before the price bubble burst. I figured I could sell 25 seeds for three or four dollars, based on what I had seen online. I counted the kernals per row and the rows per ear and the number of ears I have, and estimated how much money I could make. I looked online at envelopes and labels and such and figured out what my profit would be. It looked like I could make anywhere from a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars from those three rows of corn. Sweet!

And then I saw the Ohio regulations for selling seeds, with all this bullshit about sending them to a testing lab and getting a license and having to list on the package the percentage of weed seeds in it as verified by a lab, and so on, etc. So I thought, "Hey, I'm going to be doing a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to buy the property next door if and when the county land bank ever gets back to me with a price like I've been pestering them to do for a flipping YEAR now. I'm going to need some kind of rewards. Why don't I make a pack of these seeds one of the low-level rewards...say, for a ten-dollar donation?" And so I've left those ears of corn hanging in the hall gathering dust, my secret weapon, ready to spring into action whenever I finally get word from the county that I can buy that plot. And now, I'm not sure if they're going to sell me the land at all. And the corn is still there as planting season approaches, and I'm thinking maybe I ought to go back to Plan A and sell it, but just ignore the law and hope I don't get in trouble. I could keep the corn as seed and grow more to develop my own variety to use as chicken feed, but it's not really well-suited to it and I can't have chickens until I get the land anyway. So...fuck. What do I do?

Now I have 30 minutes left, so I'm gonna run outside with a chainsaw, slice up a tree, and go get the kids. It's too cold to take them out while I split the wood, so I'll just leave it there 'til Sunday or Saturday morning when Mayda's home to watch them, and I'll get to work framing the door for the kitchen since that's what I told Mayda I'm doing today. And then after she gets home, regardless of how much of the framing I do or don't have finished, I'll stop and get back to patching the chimney because I saw trickles of smoke in a few places.

27 minutes.