I’d Like A Superb Owl To Garden With

It is Super Bowl Sunday. The day where lots of people who don’t really like sports ball pretend to like sports ball, and where people who REALLY like sports ball get super-excited about Superb Owls.

I, on the other hand, did some housework, tided up, and planted some vegetables, and tried very hard not to be frustrated with the political state of the U.S. right now. More on that later.

And hey, I want to apologise. This post is going to be… fractured, because that’s how my brain is right now and there are days and times when I can’t… when I don’t… want to mask my ADHD-esque brain. Today is one such day.

The garden.

This year, I’ve been a little more organised in the garden. Back at the end of last year, just around the Christmas break, I planted all of the Garlic we’re planning on growing this year. It took up an entire 8×4 foot plot and, knowing there was some terrible weather on the way, I spread a bale of straw over the top as I have in previous years, to both prevent weed growth, mulch, and provide insulation for the garlic.

Garlic poking through straw mulch in the garden

It worked! We’ve got Garlic poking through the straw, and nothing looks worse for wear despite the super low temperatures we had in the first week of January, the large amount of snow and ice rain, and lots of wind. So, this weekend, I decided to follow that up with some early planting. Given that yesterday, AmeriKate and I both jumped up onto the roof to clean the gutters, I feel very accomplished with the weekend. (We also did our taxes yesterday, but we can’t file for another week because… IRS forms not ready or something).

To today’s planting.

Last year’s squash bed didn’t do well, so this year, I’m working on enriching the soil a little. I’ve put some Fava (Broad) beans in, some Cilantro (Coriander), Dill, Beet, and Lettuce. All in the same 8X4 raised bed I hasten to add, because, hey, it’s early in the year, I have too many seeds, and usually when I’m a little laissez faire with the whole planting thing, I end up with better results. (They are all plants known to get on well with Fava/Broad beans, so fingers crossed?

 A freshly-seeded 8x4 garden raised bed, with chicken wire surrounding the bed to protect from deer.

Being able to get out into the garden is good for the soul. The older (and crankier) I get, the more I realise that living in the country, and being able to garden and grow my own food, is essential to a good state of mind. I’m not the world’s best gardener, and I’m pretty sure I don’t get nearly as much food out of the garden as I might were I better at it, but by the gods do I enjoy it. Last weekend, I put two different types of Parsnip seeds into raised beds at the front of the house, and I cannot wait to see shoots popping out of the ground. It’s… therapeutic somehow, especially in a world where people don’t want people like me to exist. Again, more on that, a little later.

I don’t think I shared this, but at the tail end of 2023, we ate the very last apple grown in the garden, and it was good. We’d been eating home-grown apples for months, and frankly, while our apples weren’t all massive, they were some of the best apples I’ve had. We had the last of our Parsnips from last year just before the new year too, and again, it’s something of a nice feeling to know that I’ve been able to feed our family and friends on something we’ve grown at home.

As for the greenhouse? That’s going to be in a better position to grow things sooner this year, and I’m so ready for it. I need to buy some enclosures to better keep my tomatoes in check, but other than that? Bring it.

Talking of home-made and home-grown, I’m about to try some new bread flour. There’s a mill about 120 miles south of PDX called Camas Country Mill that I’ve just ordered some flour from, and unlike the majority of flour you buy, it’s all unenriched, meaning… more goodness, and less additives. The more crazy things become politically, the more inclined I am to shop locally, support small businesses, and just… keep my head out of massive corporations seeking to engage in the general enshittification of the world. In that vein, I’ve also started to roast my own coffee, using green beans supplied by a local coffee B-corp in town. Buying 3 pounds of green beans from a known fair trade and pro-worker co-op is not only cheaper than buying roasted beans, but it’s fresher too. Because our stove has an air-frier function, I’ve been small-batch air-frying coffee every week, and it’s freaking amazing. The last roast was a tad too dark, but it’s something I’m really enjoying learning how to do.

Freshly roasted coffee sitting on a wire oven rack cooling above a double-sink. It's a little darker than I'd like.

Again, I’m not sure if this is middle age (ye gods I’m 45 years old this year), or if it’s just me deciding that I want as little to do with the world as possible. I think it’s mainly the latter.

I guess I’m just tiring of the constant crap heading the way of LGBTQIA+ people because some lawmaker has decided that we’re good fodder for making angry white straight people more angry. The list of places we (and by we, I mean trans folk) are safe to go has become smaller and smaller, and it feels like almost every day, some political has a new axe to grind. Just this weekend, I learned that one lawmaker wants trans people to go find a corner in a field to go to the bathroom in…

It’s tiring, and as someone who transitioned more than two decades ago, It’s also put me in a very… troubling place. People who never used to have an issue with me now do, and many more seem to be coming out of the woodwork. Is it that they were just too polite to say something then? Am I suddenly more visible to them than I used to be? Am I more of a threat? Seriously, I just wish someone would tell me what the rules are, because frankly, it’s doing my head in.

I don’t go out in public when I can help it. I keep to myself, and I’ve become a shadow of my former self. I’m more on an introvert, and I don’t want to do social activities to the point I get real social anxiety doing anything like that. Even with friends and family, I just don’t want to be doing the thing… because the risk of having someone be a dick is much much higher than it used to be. I hate how I look and how I sound and frankly, I’ve been in very very dark places in increasingly frequent ways, because for the most part, it feels like society wants me to not exist.

I know I’m not alone, and other trans people I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We put on a brave face. We mask, and we sigh when people complain about us bringing the issues of transphobia and legislative hate to the spotlight. Then it becomes our fault. One of my dearest, longest friends is going into hospital in just under a month to have some affirming facial surgery, and I’m… considering if I would or should get it too. Not because I want to, but because, hey, if I can avoid being noticed by transphobes and haters, that might be quite nice. I thought I flew under the radar when I was younger, and my voice has never been an issue – but apparently… given the stares I now get in public, I don’t pass…

What’s become more concerning to me than that though? It’s the little matter of having a heart condition that could, perhaps, land me in a strange part of the world after a cardiac event. While many of my family now have pacemakers/ICDs, I don’t, because my LQTS is currently controlled by medication. But that might not always be the case, and I’m now aware that some of the regular routes I fly for work are no-longer safe for trans people to be in.

It’s one thing to be in transit, but something else to have a cardiac event and require hospitalization in a part of the U.S. where you’re… maybe… not so protected or welcome. And while people go “oh yeah, but medical professionals can’t refuse to treat you because of who you are or whom you love,” the reality is very…very different. And I’d prefer not to be a test case for that theory.

I could, potentially, ask for an ICD, maybe an S-ICD, which doesn’t require wires placed into the heart but rather sits below the skin and provides a shock when needed. I’ve never needed a shock, which is why I don’t have an ICD, and yeah, my condition is mostly being managed with the help of medication. But there are days – yesterday was one – in which I wasn’t feeling right, and where my heart wasn’t happy. I’d rather have a belt-and-braces S-ICD and deal with the surgical and financial implications of having one put in than I would face the fear that something happened while I was away from home, flying over or traveling through a state where my rights aren’t the same as straight white cisgendered folks.

So, forgive me for feeling a little blue about this. I’m scared. I’m not sure what the best action is, and while the answer in the U.S. (and the UK, where transphobia is also now the norm) is to register to vote and to vote the fuckers out of office… I’m now… openly… terrified of the future.

Add to that the ongoing hate from the EV world sent my way thanks to Elon Musk… and I’m ready to quit my job and find something else to do. Something that doesn’t make me a target.

But hey, at least I am roasting my own coffee, baking my own bread, and growing large amounts of food… right?