A Lesson in Ethics


Consider part of a human heart,
a left ventricle
or tricuspid valve

ripped to shreds.

The frayed fleshy bits frantically forced back together in an incomplete puzzle

The tug-of-war between
Desire and

The carefully calculated prose

and cons

pulling heart’s strings
in the delivery of fresh oxygen
and the removal of metabolic waste.


The answer, simply, is
to drown Desire in the freshly opened lake
holding her head under freezing waters
her warm salt tears stripped away in a
single displacement reaction with ice crystal catalyst

systole and diastole
systole and diastole
systole and … diastole

hanging onto winter like
hangnails, bleeding cuticles
she can’t stop picking.

Bunny Love: What My House Rabbit Teaches Me About Relationships

bunny momma

Adoption Day Portrait by my human

I’m a real sucker for weirdos, both human and non-human. Last April, I arrived at the Humane Society’s rabbit adoption center thinking, “alright, this time, I’m going to adopt a ‘normal’ rabbit.*” After eight years with persnickety rabbits and two difficult years of lagomorphic elder care, I wanted an “easy” bun, a bun to snuggle on my lap, to offer affectionate licks, and to relax upon being picked up. I was shown such a rabbit, a soft gray buck that lay docile in his cage staring up at me with big black eyes.

But I was distracted. A large black bunny was going nuts in the exercise area, digging potential escape routes and sassily kicking up her heels. “She doesn’t get along with other bunnies; I don’t think she’ll ever be bonded,” the volunteer warned me. Diamond Diva had been overlooked for most of a year at the center, with a brief adoption failed due to her aggression towards other animals. This fierce beast was smart, the only bun at the center who could solve a wooden puzzle that rewarded treats. She was a weirdo disconnected from her warren. Intelligent, active, independent… it was love at first sight, no questions asked.

I get myself into these kinds of relationships often. The challenging, exhilarating ones. The ones that push growth through conflict and compromise. Perhaps I subconsciously seek them out, looking for my next puzzle to piece together, striving for solutions to a happy life. At any rate, when I adopted Major Kira Nerys Diamond Diva, I didn’t realize that I was bringing a new mentor into my life, a fuzzy cotton-tailed teacher to remind me how to act with love and respect.

As I was preparing for bunny (which involved months of fancy hutch-building!), I was falling in love with a new human in my life. Having come out of two serial monogamous relationships, I was enthusiastic about my new human’s interest in an open relationship. I had spent most of my twenties in polyamorous partnerships (or destroying monogamous ones before identifying my poly needs), so I was ready to get back on track. However, those three-ish years of monogamy confused my internal wiring. Because friends, family, and lovers saw me as a mainstream, monogamous heterosexual, I internalized the roles of Girlfriend and Future Wife, and all of the assumptions that go along with those identities. I started to see the harmful effects of these mainstream stereotypes in my new human relationship that was supposed to be autonomous, celebratory, and respectful. Much of our mutual pain was a result of insecurities relating to relationships and self. I felt overbearing, greedy, and hysterical as I tried to replicate what a mainstream, big-R Relationship was supposed to look like, even as I preached alternative lifestyles. These forced expectations were not welcome on behalf of my human.

In my recovering from monogamy, it took a rabbit to identify the reasons why the new human and I weren’t getting along. In my relationship with my rabbit, I do not identify us as Owner and Pet. We are co-conspirators; I tend to her needs as she communicates them to me, and through her I gain insight, accomplishment, and a really cute bunny to ogle across the room. I don’t look at her as if she owes me anything; she is a free agent. Some days, Kira is outright miserable: nipping at my clothes, growling at my approaching hands, and staying as far away from me as possible. But other days she binkies with joy to see me, nudges my feet for attention, and does her tooth-grinding purr as she settles in for a good petting. It’s me she looks to when frightened, me she seems to trust most in her world. Kira was not always this way. Over the period of a year, she slowly, cautiously warmed up to me in ways I never expected, and our relationship is still developing. How did I create an environment for us to grow in this way? Through respecting her boundaries, giving her what she asks for within my own limits, and being patient. It hit me hard when I realized that I was not doing the same for my human.

My human and I broke up one year into our Relationship. Breaking up was the best thing for us; I feel immensely closer to him since. From an outsider’s perspective, we still act like a Couple, and often do Couple-y things together: smooching, crying on each others’ shoulders, or going on dates. But escaping that mold of Boyfriend-and-Girlfriend made all the difference when it came to the conflicts that constantly strained our partnership. Since the breakup, we have reset our relationship the way we had wanted it in the first place, built on a foundation of mutual respect and interdependent autonomy. This partnership is somehow easier to navigate without defined terms to describe it.

Like Owner and Pet, the title of Couple is loaded with expectations I am not actually interested in living up to. At this point in my life, I don’t want to get married, I don’t want kids, and I don’t want to feel obligated to a partner’s family or vice versa. I don’t want it to be assumed that a partner and I will share a bed every night, or that we’ll spend our mutual days off together. And I don’t want to be asked in small-talk banter, “So how’s your human doing?” assuming I’m in constant communication with them. The Couple title seemed too much for me to navigate when talking with friends, family, and coworkers who are more conservative or mainstream. The power of this one word, this one concept, seemed to negate my experiences past, present, and future.

What I do want is intimacy, security, and support, and all of these things need not come from a single person. I wish to foster these conditions using all of my relationships, not only lovers, but friends, family, housemates, coworkers, and animal familiars. I want to establish relationships based on particular shared visions with individuals, not governed by what the latest TV dramas, blog articles, or dreamy Instagram photos assume I should be doing at 31 years old.

As with my bunny, I am very close to my human. I strive to treat him as I do with any other animal companion: to give him space when he needs it, to give him special treats, to enjoy the experiences we share together, and to celebrate interests of his that lay outside of our relationship. There is little obligation beyond basic care and respect, and this seems to work well for my bunny, my human, and myself. Through ensuring their general comfort, I’ve found confidence in communicating my own needs to them. In house rabbit care, there are times I need to invade Kira’s space to clean up messes. She is upset, but this assertion on my part leaves us both in a healthier, safer space. I can only hope that the times I’ve brought conflict to my human will prepare us for healthier, safer spaces into the future, for as long as we keep our un-Coupled conspiracy active.


Major Kira Nerys Diamond Diva



* We all know “normal” is a construct that doesn’t actually exist, right?

What Vegans Eat on Bike Tour



When I started eating vegan meals one year ago, I started fielding questions vegans attract constantly: “How do you get your protein?” and “How can you sustain the energy you need with just vegetables?” and “OMG RLY YOU DON’T EAT CHEESE AND YOU LIVE IN WISCONSIN?” Stuff like that. Thank goodness my beau James, a seasoned vegan with strong arguments, handed me his copy of Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, a veritable vegan bible delving deeply into the nutritional sciences. Being also an avid bike tourist, James was able to guide me as we packed food for my first vegan bike tour this past year.

Before I get too far into this posting, I want to note that I do not label myself “vegan;” I do consume hunted and gathered meats several times a year, as well as eggs from the rescued backyard chickens I help maintain. I do not consume animal product whose origins I do not intimately understand and participate in. I share this disclaimer for those who know me and could be sensitive about my use of the term.

Back to mid-winter wanderlusting over summer bike tours….


James and I completed a 360-mile tour through southwestern Wisconsin last fall. I called it the “Euglena Tour” because the shape of our route’s loop resembled that of the microscopic, single-celled flagellate. James described it as the more mundane “Peanut.” At any rate, I started learning about touring-while-vegan leading up to this ride, as James and I had taken several overnight trips throughout the summer. Pre-vegan, I often relied on dense salty snacks like jerky to get me through a bonk while touring, or blocks of cheese to fill my tummy with fatty goodness. The occasional diner breakfasts of buttermilk pancakes or tavern dinners of juicy cheeseburgers would provide sustenance and relief from having to prepare my own meals over camp stove. Needless to say, there would be no mental-health ice cream breaks from here on out, or at least a lot fewer of them, as vegan ice cream is hard to come by outside of the city.

So what were my new staples as far as snacks, bonk-relief, and hearty, lightweight, packable meals on the road?

Enter Field Roast vegan meats. Yes, please enter those directly into my mouth. James turned me on to the Field Roast brand early in our relationship, and their grain-based vegan meats have been a key part of our bike travels. Although not the easiest product to find on the road, and certainly not the most affordable, their franks and brats offer dense protein and easy digestibility to our hungry biker bellies. They’re also compact and can last a few days unrefrigerated (against the company’s suggestions, by the way). We’re lucky to live in a part of the U.S. where packs of hippies have started health food cooperatives in small towns throughout the countryside, so James and I were able to restock our Field Roast supply at least once during our 9 days of travel.

Other important snacks I’ve found helpful for my own carbohydrate-centric diet include vegan energy bars, sesame sticks, apples, and dark chocolate, all of which I’ve toured with regularly in the past. Bagels or flour tortillas with peanut butter make great carb-heavy snacks or entire meals when paired with other foods.

Restaurants are often able to accommodate a vegan diet. For breakfast, even small-town diners in Wisconsin will whip up hashbrowns with extra veggies. Slushies make a great alternative to ice cream on-the-road and can be found virtually everywhere. For me, being able to sit down to a hot meal you didn’t cook is an important part of maintaining good spirits on tour. I often experience anxiety around ordering vegan foods in a strange place, so I’m particularly thankful to tour with an experienced vegan who holds no shame in asking about meat- and dairy-free options.

I invite you to peruse our vegan meal plan from our 2015 Euglena Tour, as I collected this data for a reason (beyond my own weird obsession with recording such things—what can I say, there is still some scientist left in me). You’ll note that many of these foods can be found at regular grocery stores and gas station convenience stores (both of which we shopped at), not just specialty health food cooperatives. Many thanks to James who cooked 95% of our meals, which may explain some of our odd food combinations!


Day 1 biked 45 miles
Lunch: cucumber slices and vegan franks in flour tortillas; garlic sesame sticks; cherry Slushie
Dinner: spaghetti with onion, bell pepper, peanut butter, and sesame oil; apple
Snack: muffins our housemate made for our trip❤

Day 2 biked 62 miles
Breakfast: oatmeal with raisins, coconut, and cinnamon; apple; coffee
Lunch: cucumber slices and vegan franks in flour tortillas; garlic sesame sticks; kombucha
Dinner: vegan mac ‘n’ cheese; fresh carrots with peanut butter
Snacks: trail mix (nuts, seeds, and dried fruits); Clif Bar

Day 3 biked 55 miles
Breakfast (small-town diner): hashbrowns with vegetables and salsa; sourdough toast; coffee
Lunch: bagels; trail mix; apple with peanut butter
Dinner: vegan chili dogs (buns, kraut, chili beans, vegan franks); tortilla chips; beer
Snack: apple

Day 4 hiked 3 miles (no biking – State Park time!)
Breakfast: oatmeal with raisins, coconut, and cinnamon; coffee
Lunch: ramen noodles with seasoning; fresh carrots
Dinner: spaghetti with tomato sauce
Snacks: apple; Raw Revolution bar; tortilla chips and bean dip

Day 5 biked 60 miles
Breakfast: vegan frank; peanut butter in flour tortilla; carrots; coffee
Lunch (from food co-op): pre-cooked tofu on fresh rolls; pineapple
Dinner: tofu, vegan brats, kraut, and avocado on flour tortillas; banana chips
Snacks: Clif Bar; Larabar; sesame sticks; apple; trail mix; date rolls

Day 6 biked 38 miles
Breakfast: bagels with peanut butter; apple; trail mix; coffee
Lunch: vegan brats on flour tortilla; apple with peanut butter; trail mix
Dinner: spaghetti with a roasted eggplant mix; chorizo seitan with broccoli
Snacks: vegan lattes; tortilla chips and salsa; beer
Magical Dessert: hot cocoa a friend made from scratch in Guatemala!

Day 7 biked 43 miles
Breakfast: oatmeal with apple and peanut butter; tortilla chips; coffee
Lunch: vegan dogs on buns with avacado; bananas
Dinner: macaroni with tomato sauce; fresh cucumber
Snacks: sesame sticks; Larabar; tortillas; vegan franks on buns; coffee; beer

Day 8 hiked 4 miles (no biking – State Park time!)
Breakfast: oatmeal with apple and peanut butter; vegan dog on bun; coffee
Lunch: tortillas with refried beans, cucumber, and sriracha sauce
Dinner: spaghetti with ramen seasoning and sriracha sauce
Snacks: Larabars; soda

Day 9 biked 52 miles
Breakfast: oatmeal with apple and peanut butter; coffee
Lunch (small-town pub): walnut burgers with lots of fixin’s; sweet potato tots; fries; coffee; beer
Snack: Clif Bar

These meal plans work well for any kind of travel, not just bike travel. We’ve used similar meal plans while staying at hotels during nerd conventions, for example, where there may be a lack of affordable vegan options and little downtime to do food runs. I’m happy to report to the skeptics that I’ve stayed healthy, full, and energized with these simple meals, many thanks to Field Roast dogs, flour tortillas, and peanut butter. I’ll even thank carrots, which I do not like much, because they are such a travel-friendly vegetable option.

What are your go-to vegan travel foods? How do you eat healthy on the road? Any tips and tricks from fellow vegan bike tourists? Please share in the comments below!


Detangler and Patience


This tangle of hair,
a rat’s nest of memories
of speculation
of self-doubt in the face of
carefully constructed conversations.

This blonde hair
needs never met;

A brown hair our meeting, mingling
flesh on flesh;

This pink hair a frazzled friendship
trust torn from the scalp;

And the long, curly hair found under your blankets.

I wallowed in heavy curtains of human hair
yours, mine, hers
a keratin coffin
concealing, encasing
suppressing, oppressing
for Too Long.

How to trust again?
How to love?
With conditioner and comb,
I pick mats apart strand by strand
sometimes scratching too hard at the scabs of your scalping
flakes falling on pillows
for lovers to see.

Detangler and patience.

Bile-soaked hairballs
still threaten to choke when they catch in my throat
As I sweep dusty split ends under the rug.

Love Letter to Your Body


Through an open door I peak as you slip on your skirt
your flesh holding secrets      whispered nervously in my ear

like toes touching under tangled cotton sheets
or subtle musks after a long ride      your thighs flexing with each push
of a pedal.

Secrets Delicious, like the hardness of your cock in arousal
or the sweet softness
your belly my Safe Space.

Your arms:
warm and enveloping      or
rough and commanding desires I freely meet
as I am helpless in your chest-hair refuge.

My favorite freckle
which sits on a nose
on a face that fills my entire being      with relief      to be

I Made a Rabbit Hutch


Last year, my dear old bunny-friend Stanley passed on to the great timothy grass pasture in the sky.  Through her and her life companion Alfalfa, I learned the immeasurable joys of house rabbits.  Being a bunny momma became a part of my identity, a reason to get up in the morning.  Since Stanley’s passing, I settled into a new house, traveled here and there, and planned for the day I’d be a bunny momma again.

I’d resolved that with new bunnies would come new, fantastic lagomorph living quarters.  Stanley and Alfalfa seemed quite content in their wire-cage chambers, but being the creative fashionista I pretend to be, I wanted something snazzier, more integrated into my decor, and –most importantly– something that would save space in my tiny bedroom.  After careful internet research and conversations with maker friends, I settled on the transformation of existing furniture, such as this entertainment center:


$40 entertainment center from Craigslist


inside, pre-gutting

I was processing difficult emotional trauma as I began to work on this project. The initial gutting, tearing, and breaking, combined with power tools and the presence of my friend’s large dogs, provided much needed relief for a healing soul. Working in an unheated garage in Wisconsin winter proved how tough we were (although I owe much to my insulated canvas work suit).  My friend worked on her own carpentry project at the same time, and our “Build ‘n’ Bitch” sessions made the winter quite bearable.


shelving and one wall gutted, doors removed

I drafted a basic build plan after the initial gutting, during the long breaks between workdays.  I purchased about $50 in materials, such as grout, tile adhesive, latches, and carpet scraps.  Other hardware either my friend or I had laying around from prior building endeavors. The entire project took roughly 30 hours from start to finish, including sewing, painting, and other post-construction details.


jagged jigsaw fun: hole between two floors of rabbit hutch


busting out door panels

I decided to leave one section of the lower compartment separate from rabbit access.  This would be a shelf in which to store food, treats, extra chew sticks, and other rabbit supplies.

I used hardware cloth (which is not cloth at all, but a wire mesh) to replace the wood panels on the entertainment center’s doors.  If we didn’t already have this laying around, I probably would have used something a little less fine.


after nailing on the hardware cloth using small staples; DIFFICULT with plywood

I added smaller ceramic tile to the floors of the hutch for basic water-proofing, easy cleaning, and the cuteness factor.  I’d seen this done with other furniture-hutch conversions online and made many trips to the ReStore searching for the coolest tile.  Unfortunately, by the time I was ready to install the tile, nothing awesome had been donated. Stuck with common beige, ah well!

Not having ever worked with ceramic tile before, and not owning fancy (and relatively expensive) tile-cutting tools, I played it by ear for this part.  Since the tiles were for a rabbit hutch and not human weight or aesthetics, I was okay with the risks of trial and error, which ended up being a handful of useless tile shards. That’s why I bought plenty of extra!

For bits of floor where a full tile would not fit, I needed smaller tile pieces to fill the space.  For the top floor, I was able to break enough tiles in half to look mostly rectangular.  I tried this first by setting tiles over a wire hanger and slamming down on it with the heel of my shoe.  That didn’t work great.  I did find, however, that placing the tiles in a bench vice and smacking them sideways with a hammer seemed to do the trick well enough!  (Wear your safety glasses, folks!) I ended up with several bits of odd-shaped tile in the process, some which I used for the bottom floor edge, mosaic-style.


laying out the tile indoors, as adhesive & grouting needs above-freezing temperatures to set


bottom floor mosaic edge, post-adhesion, pre-grout

For grouting, I followed the instructions that came with the product and watched a few You-Tube videos for technique.  I won’t share the particulars about this because I probably did it wrong!  (I also cut myself rather deeply on edge tiles; wear gloves, folks!)


my first grouting experience; looks decent, don’t it?

I attached a carpeted ramp between floors using a hinge.  The hinge system will come in handy if I have two rabbits who need to be separated for a short period of time, or a single territorial rabbit I need to block off as I clean the hutch. I’m able to fold up the ramp and attach it with a hook to the bottom floor’s ceiling, effectively quarantining the two floors.


measuring & cutting carpet to glue to the wooden ramp between floors

stairway to heaven... or at least the hay loft; note the hinge attachment for potential floor separation

stairway to heaven… or at least the hay loft; note the hinge attachment for potential floor separation

I understand that my rabbits may tear this carpet apart and gnaw on the ramp, so I will need to watch them carefully their first days in the hutch.  I plan to provide them with all kinds of toys to chew and dig, so my hope is that they’ll leave this part alone.  If you’re thinking of building something similar, untreated pine is perfectly safe for rabbits to gnaw & digest.


re-attaching doors using the same hardware I saved upon gutting

To keep the doors secure from rabbit escape, I attached silver latches to each set of doors.  Silly me didn’t realize that said latches would not work on the bottom doors, which fold outward in the middle.  I added a metal bracket inside the doors to prevent them from folding, but the latch is still rather weak. I will fix this eventually, but in the meantime, an elastic hair tie around the door knobs works just fine.


Whoops, this latch will not work with outward-folding doors! Doh!


completed hutch, pre-decoration

I decided early in the process that my hutch’s “theme” would be Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. A partner and I often spoke of naming our future bonded rabbits after characters Quark and Odo as we watched DS9 and snuck popcorn treats to Stanley.  Due to time, budget, and ability constraints, the theme morphed to a more general “space.” I still painted wormholes on the door knobs and snuck in a Cardassian space station and Starfleet’s USS Enterprise into the starscape that became the hutch’s ceiling.


painting wormholes, like you do

I wanted my decor to be both stylish and safe for bunnies.  A cloth backdrop suspended from a spring-loaded curtain rod decorates the back wall with planets and moons.  I’m sure this will be nibbled at some point, but it is not deathly toxic.  To provide lighting in the dark hutch, I installed holiday lights through holes poked in a large piece of space cardboard (cardboard painted to look like space, nothing fancy).  The entertainment center was designed with various openings at the back wall for ventilation and plugs, so it was easy for me to slide the string of lights back to an outlet, all out of a bunny’s reach.  An old bike basket became a hay loft, from which a rabbit can pull out hay for snacktime.



So there you have it!  I look forward to watching bunny and/or bunnies test my work.  I’m sure there will be some improvements and changes as those adorable lagomorphs settle in and make a happy mess of the joint.  ‘Til then, I’m preparing with plenty of chew sticks, timothy hay mats, toys, and bunny puzzles.



Norway Spruce,
grandmother of this grove
I follow turkey feathers and deer scat to your doorstep,
a wall of weeping tendrils quietly crying
somber celebration of Spring.

Snows have vanished, revealing secrets
left by raptors roosting in your tangled arms
twiggy chambers criss-crossing
dissecting spaces warm and inviting.
Thimbles of fur scattered about
and the remains of feathery feasts
Last Year’s cicada skin somehow preserved
under your permanent security.

I cautiously invade your sacred circle
as intruder asking permission to enter,
to run hands over smooth bark,
to contemplate lazy streams of slow-moving sap.
I place a finger
gently collecting a single drop of your golden juice
dabbing on wrists a sticky forest perfume.
Soft spiked arms hug my shoulders
a green shawl draped heavy across my chest.

I’ve waited for this embrace.
You give me everything by caring not,
Nature’s apathy my deep comfort.
With the wind you respond
infinite hands reaching to the sky:
“Stand up, dear one, and love with all your heart.”

– 16 March 2015