Category Archives: parenting and personhood

a dark quiet room, with tea.

The young mother

except she’s on a metro bus and she’s exhausted, terrified, and broke

In the early days of my young motherhood, when my marriage was falling apart and life was an unending cycle of wailing and washing and vomit and sleepless nights, I used to dream of a special room for mothers.  In that room, time would stop.  There would be endless, quiet hours of darkness and unending cups of warm tea.  In that room I would rock, and rest, and recharge against the chaotic and ceaseless cycle of my life.

I was so taken with this image that one night, sitting around a sacred fire with a squealing baby on my lap, I shared it.  No sooner had I spoken than a young woman I’d never met before burst out: “I know that place!”  She quickly blushed and silenced herself, but after the fire she approached me and she told me of a Korean spa she’d discovered, a place that for a small entrance fee entitled one to soak in warm mugwort baths and sweat in a salt sauna and sip endless barley tea and nap on a warmed jade floor.  We set a date, I cashed in numerous babysitting favors, and when the day came I found myself in motherhood mecca.

I had never been to a spa before (I had walked past buildings labeled  ‘day spa’, but they were so far out of my realm of experience that I vaguely thought they might have something to do with eyebrows.)  My new friend led me into a steaming room filled with laughing naked women. I spent six hours sweating and soaking and scrubbing and sleeping on the jade floor and writing in my journal, and my life was changed forever. Continue reading


March 14, 2013 · 2:27 am

Impetigo and Vulnerability

An Ikea garlic press, with pressed garlic.

My four-year-old son has transformed overnight from flaxen-haired charmer to disease vector. It’s not pretty. For those of you lucky ones who do not know (oh, I was in your happy ranks but yesterday!) impetigo is a bacterial skin infection, highly contagious and common in the preschool set, that generally presents as weepy, crusted sores around the mouth and nose.

The typical treatment of impetigo is antibiotic ointment, followed by a cycle of oral antibiotics if the ointment doesn’t work. This is where we run into trouble.

I don’t like antibiotics. Bio is life, right? Bio is the good guys! I’m PRO Bio, I’m pretty sure, not anti. Continue reading


March 10, 2013 · 4:06 am

on time

English: The white-lipped snail (Cepaea horten...

I have noticed a disturbing tendency in myself lately.  I am “moving through” things.  You know what I mean, right?  You’re reading a book to your kid and flipping over two pages at a time hoping they won’t notice, because it’s a repetitive f-ing book anyway and you’ve got things to do.  You’re eating yogurt while standing up and simultaneously reading because it takes too long to stirfry burdock and wild greens. You’re internally rolling your eyes when your child takes up an interest in quilting, because oh my god, are you kidding? Do you have any idea WHAT A TIME-CONSUMING PROJECT THAT IS?

But, at the same time, you have no idea what you’re cutting all of these corners for.  At the end of the day you’re just napping, or reading, or checking facebook.  What was the point of all the hurrying? And wait just a second, isn’t it freaking AWESOME that my eight-year-old wants to QUILT?  What happened to me?  Because I say “you”, but I mean “me”.  Me, the one who used to live in a hut made of twigs I’d built myself heated by a lard-can-stove I’d made myself, writing my college papers on a manual typewriter because I didn’t have electricity, eating groundnuts I’d painstakingly dug and sipping tea made with water tapped from trees because I didn’t trust the cleanliness of the stream.  Now I somehow don’t have time to read the even-numbered  pages of Green Eggs and Ham?

Continue reading


March 6, 2013 · 3:40 am

pleasure IS productive.


getting it done.

Long ago, or maybe this morning, someone laughed at your idea and told you it was unrealistic.  Someone told you that enjoying yourself was lazy, or selfish, or disgusting.  Someone asked you who do you think you are to do that? Someone criticized your work, your appearance, your efforts.  Someone told you that you weren’t talented enough, or rich enough, or young enough, or old enough, or strong enough, or smart enough.  Someone said leave that to the experts.  Someone hit you, or pushed you, or locked the door between you and what you wanted. And that HURT.

When that happened, a part of you took note.  And that brave, protective part decided NEVER to let you get hurt again.  Now, that part notices every time you make yourself vulnerable—every time you stick your neck out, venture a new opinion, decide to play larger, start something new—and it shuts you down.  Because if YOU demean, belittle, and constrain yourself, no one else will have the chance to do it for you. And you will be safe.  Miserable and muzzled, yes, but safe. Continue reading


February 28, 2013 · 3:11 pm

tea for cold prevention

A Kerr mason jarEnglish: Ripe crabapple covered in icy glaze d...English: This is a picture of smaller branches...

it’s been quite a week around here–first mama nature threw us a one-two punch of freezing rain followed by freakishly summery weather, and then everyone around me began succumbing to variations of fever, flu, and pneumonia.

(favorite conversation of the year, tangentially:

me: my head really hurts.  i think it’s all the temperature fluctuations.

friend: headaches are usually a symptom of repressed guilt.

me: i’m pretty sure it’s the temperature fluctuations.

friend: it’s repressed guilt.

me: it’s global warming.

friend: it’s repressed guilt about global warming. )

For a while I tossed down my elderberry tincture (thanks, Michelle Wilde!) and drank my kombucha and nettle/hawthorn/red clover infusion and I was fine. But after two days of tending sick offspring, my throat started to tickle. And then I woke up sounding like Brigitte Bardot.

When we lived in California, there was a lemon tree in the backyard that, due to wonderful positioning against a south-facing wall and the location of the compost pile on its dripline, produced ALL YEAR LONG.  And in those golden days, when I got that old tickly-throat-brigitte-bardot feeling, I would climb for a few lemons and brew up a pot of lemon-garlicraw honey tea.

But lemons don’t grow in this bioregion. So I’ve been experimenting, and here’s what I’ve come up with for an antibiotic/diaphoretic/antimicrobial/vitamin-c-boosting powerhouse of a stop-the-cold-now tea: Continue reading

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February 28, 2013 · 2:05 am