Pumpkin time in a pandemic

Halloween is ET’s favorite holiday. It is my second favorite. I carved the above cat butt pumpkin.

Our pandemic house guest (house mate? Is that upgrade automatic after visiting since February?) carved this:

Angela Davis Black Lives Matter pumpkin

A few of the pumpkins were sourced from Eckerts farm. They have apple picking and pretty good social distancing / mask requirements. A few of the pumpkins came from a shop down the road, flowers and weeds, which accommodated us with curbside pumpkin purchasing.

Last night ET and I went on a wonderful drive to see various decorated houses around the city.


was our guide and it was fantastic.

Punch a Nazi?

My heart is warmed by so many friends denouncing white supremacy. I denounce it. I also acknowledge that I have profited from white supremacy. The system is rigged, and it is rigged in my favor. I can’t absolve myself from profiting in a rigged system by simply denouncing white supremacy. I must also acknowledge that our society isn’t only historically racist, but that it is currently racist, and I must work to change that. I won’t hold being a woman as a shield to deny the ways American social norms are rigged in my favor.

I am trying my best to go beyond being just NOT racist. I actively strive to be ANTI-racist. It hurts to think about how what I have isn’t just because I’ve earned it, but because the game isn’t fair. So, I am finding ways to work to make the world more just.

If you think the quality of a person can be divined from their race, their gender, their sexuality, you’re a shitty person who is wrong and I am happy to stand in opposition to you and your shitty beliefs.

We have to work together to dismantle injustice in our society. We have to acknowledge it for the problem it is. We have to acknowledge who it profits and how. I’m happy to loudly denounce white supremacy and to act against it as I can. I’m glad so many of my friends are standing up against it too.

I was in an argument ages ago, about how I condone violence against racists. Specifically, how I applaud people who punch them. I was asked how much assault do I condone against them? I answered that I think a person assaulting a nazi should do only so much damage that they can continue to lead their lives. I flippantly answered that they should do as much as they wish, but stop before they can’t later in life choose to run an online anti-nazi craft shop.

I do think racists can reform, grow, and get past their hateful views. Some people help racists grow with propaganda, religion, even friendship, and some people help them with their fists. There are many avenues to encourage change. I’m horrified how emboldened racists are to share their views. I am ashamed that I am unlikely to punch a nazi, because I think society is stronger when racists are afraid.



This is my scoby:

It is gelatinous and turns sweet tea into kombucha. I read an article about kombucha and the author named their scoby Toby, so my scoby is Toby II.

I got a scoby from ebay, as well as these cool flip top bottles.

flavors are:
peach & ginger,
strawberry mint,
mango passionfruit & ginger,
tazo chai concentrate & ginger,
peach & strawberry mint

I tried the tazo chai concentrate tonight. It turned out well. And fizzy! Not super fizzy, but fizzy enough. I am happy with how this project is going.

Kombucha is not the only culture in the house. I’m using instructions from https://www.youbrewkombucha.com/.

Rose has a sourdough that often becomes fun pancake adventures. E.T. is baking bread. He has gone through, no lie, a hundred pounds of flour during this pandemic.

In addition to that, the yard is yielding strawberries. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to get one. Late one-night E.T. witnessed a baby possum gorging itself. I don’t mind sharing the bounty.

We also have an outdoor compost pile in addition to the worms. The bin was an old one from my mom that I drug back from Kansas. She wasn’t using it because it was broken. I fixed it with zip ties!

Another hippie thing I have is this rain barrel. It is very good at catching rain.

So the end of this story is: I’m a hippie. It’s going great. I have a lot of culture.

What’s in a name? Hellmaggot

Okay, I’ll explain it. First, a visual aid: a picture of myself and my paternal grandmother.

Grandma Margaret & Little Lena
“See how pale she is and her hair was almost white, doesn’t that remind you of a maggot?” my mothers words in reference to this picture “here she is in her larval stage”

I have a joke about my first name: it is spelled Helena, but I take the He off because smash the patriarchy. Also, Helena is for Hell.

When I was little I didn’t want to be called any cute nicknames. I only accepted awesome nicknames, like monster and maggot. I have my grandmother’s name Margaret as my middle name. Margaret is for Maggot.

That’s why my blog is HellMaggot.

Some Days Having a House is Really Hard

Today I had 2 of my ACs serviced, one had stopped working and one was being weird. I got a quote to replace the third one, which had got a temporary repair on Monday, but the furnace is older than me, it needs replacing. The other AC I replaced back in 2017 and it is the only one behaving. After that, sewage started bubbling up in my basement. My champion handyman came quick and roto rooter’d it.

Now, now things are quiet. The house is cold. The toilets can flush.

Next, the sewer lateral needs to be scoped, as likely some section of it has collapsed and that will need to be fixed.

I am overwhelmed. And yet. And yet. I feel lucky. I feel lucky I bought too much house. It feels like almost enough house for being stuck in for a pandemic. I feel grateful for the people who help me maintain the ecosystem of this house. To the handyman and the hvac fella, my father who watches the porch, my husband who is making me dinner right at this moment, my friend who is trapped here with us who makes amazing coffee and brought me a glass of water explaining that without AC hydration is non-optional. Her and ET alternate making dinner and I have maybe never had such varied delicious homemade meals.

Thinking of the house as an ecosystem makes it much much easier to engage with.

I have big plans.
I have small plans.
I like having plans.
I have plans interrupted.

I want to get the garage roof replaced. I want it to have a green roof. I think I might be able to get a grant to help pay for replacing the garage roof with a green roof. I want a set of steps I can use to go up there. I want a hammock up there, a hammock with mosquito netting. May a rig for a yoga swing? Those seem cool.

I have little plans. I am getting a rain barrel later this month. I want to put it at the downspout from the roof. I need to fix the gutter on the balcony.

I want to paint my front steps (as they are new, but ugly).

I need to get my neighbor’s trees trimmed so they’ll stop kissing my house in storms.

One day I need to have more tuckpointing done.

I ought to learn how to repair plaster, and fix some of the water damage that has been addressed by the new roof.

I need to fix my taxes. Something is wrong with almost every year going back to 2015. I need to file the 2019 taxes, I have an appointment. I’m supposed to get a tax credit for my solar panels.

My solar panels are running!
My bills are lower.
I need to look at those bills. Another time.

I have too much to do. I am overwhelmed.
But I also know.
I can do it all.
I don’t have to do it all.
The house tells me what can’t wait anymore.

I’m busy at work. Overwhelmed. I’m in a pandemic trying to work from home. I found a project I can do.
I am loving this project. http://umsldigitalhumanities.org/openaccess/
You can look at student activity logs, and see what they’re all up to. You can also see that I am meeting with multiple students every day overseeing a massive effort to discover and showcase faculty works, identifying what of it is open access.

It’s a good project.

I got a new project yesterday. Make a library guide: “focused on the 2020 protests across the United States and the social issues surrounding them. It focuses on racial disparities in the criminal justice system, the relationship between police and people of color, and understanding the death of George Floyd in the context of institutionalized racism.”

I’m happy with how the guide is turning out. I’m working on it with two coworkers. I have great coworkers.

I think it is time for me to look into getting a new mortgage. Since getting the place I got a new roof, with solar panels too. I think the appraisal price would go up, and maybe the interest could go down. I need funds to replace the sewer lateral, the garage roof, maybe pay other debts? Probably not the student loans, I hope I can stop paying for my education one day, but for now at least another 2,533 days until those are gone and another 9,469 or so until the mortgage is paid off, if I don’t get a new one. I am going to have an involuntary pay reduction at work for the next year. It is a weird time and a hard time for planning. I’m overwhelmed. I am not under-prepared.

I am able to work on things that align with my values. I’m able to support a household I love. I am overwhelmed, but I am not alone.

Next, I’m going to go play a silly VR game or pet a cat or look at my strawberry plants. I am not going to look at refinancing and repairs and taxes tonight, because too much has happened today, but I did spew it all out on my blog, and that’s pretty good. Writing this all out was good.


Sometimes the internet points me in strange directions.

Now I want a scythe to mow the lawn.

I’m hesitant to get it because impaling yourself during a pandemic seems very avoidable by not getting a scyth.

I am content to want and not have. I can mow the lawn easily (but not well) with a weed whacker.

May day!

I had a good busy feeling May day.

Saw ducks in the park

ET creature and I went to the park.

Husband creature in mask

We didn’t try to go swimming. My friend Rhea have us masks. I bought groceries from the restaurant supply place that does curbside delivery. My friend Joseph stopped by and sat in the yard and we chatted from the porch. My mom’s handy man came over and didn’t mow all my newly planted strawberry plants. We had Thai takeout for our weekly exciting food night. I like weekly takeout. I want to support all the wonderful restaurants near me.

In job news, I got furloughed. So I won’t be paid for a week this month or next. I took a vacation day for today and I totally did work. I can’t do that when I’m furloughed. That is going to be hard for me. My job doesn’t consume my identity, I don’t need it, but damn do I enjoy it. I miss my physical library, but there is much I can do for the institutional repository from home. I have taken on a number of practicum students. Much will get done, much will be taught and learned. I’m excited about it. Being furloughed feels extremely inconvenient on a number of fronts.

Most everyone I know are having a hard time of it. I’m worried about a number of my friends, especially the folks with depression. It feels like gravity has been turned up, and they’re the folks who tend to be carrying the most.

I had a busy and beautiful day. I’m tired. This is my almost 3am post. Time to return to head to bed! Good night internet.