kid lit: The Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliot


My little reluctant reader has discovered The Owl Diaries series and we’ve been reading nothing but lately. They’re cute little chapter books featuring a little owl named Eva and her daily life in the treetops. In book 7 , one of Eva’s classmates has a little sister who can’t fly like the other owlets and needs a “wingchair”. The whole class decides to raise money to buy the wingchair for the little owlet.

I read a lot of diverse kids books with and

pg 16, Owl Diaries #7: The Wildwood Bakery by Rebecca Elliot

to my kidlets but I honestly can’t think of another time I’ve seen this in a children’s book.   Books for young readers that have any representation of characters with disabilities are rare so to find that AND have the major plot point be that the family doesn’t have enough money to buy a wheelchair was pretty refreshing.
Because I know people think that kids shouldn’t have to think or worry about these sorts of socio-economic things but I think it can only help grow empathy and besides, there are kids who have to experience this sort of issue firsthand. Representation matters a lot and so does real life. I appreciate that in this sweet little animal land not everything is so perfect and even owls have to have gofundme to have healthcare and accessibility needs met.

Possible spoiler alert here but the main conflict in the story is that Eva’s classmates make the fundraising a competition and get so wrapped up in who is winning that they forget why and who they’re raising money for. This is something I’ve seen and complained about many times. When one of my older daughters was in elementary school they would have a canned food drive for low income folks every single year and every year it was a competition between the upper grade classrooms. The winner got a pizza party. I hated everything about this fundraising challenge. The recipients of the fundraising bounty weren’t even thought of or talked about and how weird that you get to have pizza (something that a lot of low income people won’t usually get to order out for themselves) as a reward for feeding hungry people. Anyway, I was annoyed. Probably the author has seen this happen before as well and was also annoyed.
(Or I’m overthinking as usual. That wouldn’t be unheard of)

podcast: ” LOLOLoligarchy” , Lovett or Leave It


Listen on your favorite ipod app or at the Crooked Media website:

I think Lovett or Leave It is generally relevant to “us folks’ ” interests here but this latest episode focuses particularly on economic inequality. I’m also going to forever side with Franchesca Ramsey on those Paul Ryan workout pics.

There wasn’t  a single mention of universal basic income. That was disappointing. I know some people feel there isn’t much point in discussing it as a serious way to help bridge inequality because “it’ll never happen” but at this point let’s just throw all the ideas out there because UBI has just as much chance right now of being a thing in our country as truly universal health care but we’re still talking about that a lot.

[this post brought to you by fancy olive oil someone gave me after cleaning out their cupboard, the reboot of American Idol, and robins chirping outside my window]

I’ve been sick or kids have been sick in between packing & trying to establish our new domicile, so I’ve admittedly been a little out of it but please enjoy these few things I did notice that are relevant to our interests. I know there were more but I just tried to look in my browser history for some of them and wow, what a daunting place.

(Enjoy? Not the right word. Nothing here in exactly enjoyable. )

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found at Revolution News

⇒There’s a new study that says going to a concert every two weeks can add to your life span. Well, I’m someone who would go to concerts all the time if I could afford to so I’m immediately thinking that the underlying reason frequent concert goers have a longer lifespan has something to do with disposable income that allows them to buy concert tickets. If you have lots of concert ticket money in your budget, you’re probably eating ok and have good access to things that keep you alive longer. The rationale behind the study is that “live music increases feelings of self-worth, closeness to others, and, especially, mental stimulation, all of which contribute to one’s sense of well-being. “.
But so does not living in poverty somewhat so I don’t know.

⇒Good question: Why isn’t it the norm for restaurants to donate their excess food?

⇒ Added to my To-Read List: Stand Together or Starve Alone by Mark Winne.  Winne says he wrote the book because “I’ve been in the food movement for 47 years now. I’ve seen two things happening. One, the movement keeps growing and diversifying, and it becomes more of a force in everyday life. But at the same time, I’ve been underwhelmed, unimpressed, and discouraged by the lack of progress in looking at the major indicators of hunger, food insecurity, obesity, diabetes—even the sustainability of the food system itself. We haven’t spent enough time working together and finding ways to collaborate.”

If we make it through December

Today’s post brought to you by my 7th graders lovely holiday chorus concert, a marvelous surprise in the mail from Rose, running water to clean up 7 year old’s vomit and cat puke, and new Patreon supporter Angie. 

Add this to the Killjoy Christmas playlist.

I feel ya, Merle.

I had thought today I could pay November rent but then did math this morning and realized paying the full amount would leave us $75 for gas and groceries until next Thursday  – during a week with kids home on break. That’s not going to work. I’ll pay part of it. Everything else is caught up except for rent! I’m calling that a somewhat-success.


Littlest kiddo home sick today and sad to be missing fun activities at school. Today’s activity was a Sun Welcoming Centerpieces for the Solstice. I’m delighted to see Paganism being practiced in public schools. Finally, my traditions are being honored en mass!
(It’s funny,right? Public schools are being very conscientious about not focusing on religious holidays but inadvertently using Pagan themes as substitute. I love it)
Anyway, since today is Yule and he’s home sick, we’ll make out own Sun Welcoming Baskets here. We don’t have much else planned. Husbeast is working evening shift tonight and older kids are busy with other things so having any sort of Yule celebration isn’t happening. Guess we’ll have to wait until that other day everyone gets off for their holiday.







mental health: create a sentinel

Today’s post is brought to you by generous supporter Heather, my now paid Internet service, and both store brand children’s cough and cold medicine (grape flavored) and my own special homemade ginger based cough and cold medicine that my kid hates.

In Past Lives, Future Healing, Sylvia Browne instructs the reader to create a foot tall imaginary sentinel that they station at their solar plexus (stick with me here) to guard against overwhelming feelings and anxieties.
I had totally forgotten about this until I listened to an episode of one of my favorite newly discovered podcasts By The Book where they live by that particular book. By The Book is a podcast where two friends live by the advice and instructions of a self help book for two weeks and share their experience. The first episode I listened to was on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I was hooked. I could write an entire book about how I feel about that book. I appreciated all of what they went through. Truly.
(Sidenote: The very first episode is about The Secret, which I skipped at first but then went back to later. The Secret is one of those books looooovvvvved by the type of folks who give poor people the most useless advice ever about how they’re not trying hard enough to be positive and draw good things into their life and nonsense about manifesting your own happiness & success. It turned out to be a good listen)

I also adore this podcast because Jolenta and Kristen remind me of one of my longest friendships. That friendship is the only reason I would have ever known about Sylvia Browne and Past Lives, Future Healing. This was one of those books she once put in my hands, enthusiastically encouraging me to give it a go. I’m pretty sure I skimmed through it and laughed a lot. I was not into it. I’m still not into it but the bit about sentinels grabbed me. Like all self help books, even if most of it seems ridiculous there may be parts worth taking out and using.

My teenage daughter struggles with severe anxiety coupled with depression. We’re fortunate to live in a community with access to mental health services with sliding scale fees for low income folks. Our insurance does cover most of the cost and our co-pay is $20 per weekly visit, which is still too much but the office is understanding and helpful. We both love her therapist. Our pediatrician is also on top of things and has prescribed medication. Still on a lot of days, she struggles a lot. And because she struggles, I do,too. Even though I also have issues with anxiety and depression, it’s not as severe as hers. I can relate through experience but only to a point. I’m constantly looking for ways to help, even if it’s just knowing the right things to say. to support her.  If there’s a technique to help her work through anxiety attacks, I’m open to them all. Thank you, Jessica Jones for that reciting the streets to get home/safe place trick.

So, sentinels? This sounded like it was worth a shot. Just one more thing to add to her coping toolbox.

I didn’t go back and read the book but from what I remembered (or maybe it was partly how my friend described it), the sentinel you create can be anything that helps you feel safe. It can be a literally strong person like a gladiator or something spiritual like an angel. It can be a real person who makes you feel safe in your life or a fictional character. Whatever it is, you picture it to be a small projection that stands in front of you and guards from the feels.

The immediate imagine that came to mind for me when creating my sentinel was the little guard in Labyrinth, Sir Didymus. Who knows why. I’m a little shocked it wasn’t Wonder Woman or a velociraptor. My brain is funny.
When I call forth him as my sentinel when I’m having anxiety, it just makes me laugh a little. I’ve always found humor to be fortifying so I guess that works. It at least take me out of the moment and helps to minimize the anxiety threat, or at least to better refocus my emotions so they aren’t so overwhelming.

Image result for sir didymus

See, though? He is a good little guard! He’s a furry little version of Gandalf. Good job, little guy.

If you have tips for getting through rough days, I’d love to hear them.

Exhibit 1 of why I’m not allowed to be in charge of the holiday playlist

Today’s post is brought to you by generous supporter Marisa (thank you!), the little fake tree we got on Freecycle last year, and a string of red lights my Mom didn’t want anymore.

“Father Christmas , give us some money. Don’t mess around with those silly toys”

As my mother said at last year’s holiday gathering, “Oh,my lord. These songs are all so sad!”

Sorry, Mom. You raised a killjoy. I like my Christmas songs to have drunk and/or jobless dads and no chimneys Santa can come down.

Have yourself a merry merry Christmas, have yourself a good time.
But remember the kids who got nothin’ , while you’re drinkin’ down your wine




september 18th,2017 things

(Image credit: Miami2you/Shutterstock )

helping others: How To Help Hurricane Irma Victims Regain Food Security  – orgs to donate to that are helping feed people (similar link at the bottom of that page to article on helping Hurricane Harvey folks). The good news is that both Texas and Florida have put emergency protocols in place for SNAP users so that they can use their EBT for prepared hot food. They can also apply to get additional funds to replace food in their homes that was lost to power outage & destruction.

political involvement: Why I’m Going To Run For Office –“I’m done putting my faith in well-meaning surrogates. That’s not enough now, and it never really was.”
Right on. We really need more diverse candidates representing marginalized citizens.

podcast: Earhustle – created and produced by inmates at San Quentin, this podcast tells real stories about life in prison. Start from the beginning.

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The most ridiculous thing about this is that even if the pampering is free or super low cost, I will still get criticism. For example, posting a picture of my current read (from the library most likely) with a nice cup of cocoa almost always means I’ll see some sort of commentary about how I shouldn’t be so lazy or irresponsible with money. It isn’t just about the money aspect, it’s also about what’s seen as leisure and “mismanagement of time” that could presumably be spent working or maybe just  huddled in a corner wearing rags by a fireplace with nothing but ask while I cry myself to sleep.

Self care: Do it. Poor people need it more than anyone else.

Was reading these links kind of a bummer? I do these nearly-daily link roundups at my other blog,too, and those are a lot happier and prettier.

Other places to find me:

If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please considering being a supporter through Patreon. Your support will help keep the lights on and the content flowing, as well as help me develop printed publications such as cookbooks and zines designed to help low income folks. Even if you can only pledge $1 or $3 per month, that is SO appreciated! If even half the readers of this blog pledged that small amount, it would be significant enough to bring change and growth in my own life.


Healthcare: tweeted the other day about Senate quietly pushing for a change in the new bill that would allow states to eliminate Medicaid entirely. Read the whole thread here

basic income: Rutger Bregman’s TED talk “Poverty isn’t a lack of character;It’s a lack of cash”
There’s a lot in this TED talk that poor people already know (but no one listens to us). Like that poor people aren’t stupid but the stress and conditions of poverty make them do stupid things. Like that the best way out of poverty is to give people money, not for rich people to send them teddy bears and shoes. Unconditional basic income is how to end poverty.



wages: Missouri Republicans Lower St. Louis Minimum Wage From $10 To $7.70.  

LOWERED minimum wage. Those same Republicans probably won’t understand why more people will now be applying for assistance. “Get another job or two, slackers”

podcast: Radio Free Dystopia–  Dystopian fiction is my jam so of course I was going to love this podcast immediately.

A podcast about what we learn when facts and dystopian fiction start to look the same. Join dystopian novelist Toby Ball, journalist Meg Heckman and assorted guests as they talk about authoritarianism, free speech, environmental decay and what it means to commit acts of resistance. Also: Power, privilege, freedom and – perhaps most importantly of all – hope.

soundtrack: “Tin Foil Hat”, Todd Rundgren feat Donald Fagan

It’s about you-know-who



Was reading these links kind of a bummer? I do these nearly-daily link roundups at my other blog,too, and those are a lot happier and prettier.

Other places to find me:

If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please considering being a supporter through Patreon. Your support will help keep the lights on and the content flowing, as well as help me develop printed publications such as cookbooks and zines designed to help low income folks. Even if you can only pledge $1 or $3 per month, that is SO appreciated! If even half the readers of this blog pledged that small amount, it would be significant enough to bring change and growth in my own life.






activism: Why It’s Important To Challenge Gatekeepers
This is from last year but continues to be important. Gatekeepers are totally unaware that they’re taking part in silencing and oppressing others so if you read this and hear your own voice in the examples given of what gatekeepers say and do, challenge yourself to do better,please. Thanks.

podcast: Ep 4 The Spending Clause of What Trump Can Teach About Con Law
This episode explains what the spending clause is and how it works to withhold federal funding to sanctuary cities.

disabilty/wages: A new bill could boost pay for the disabled–to at least the minimum wage. Right now employers do not have to pay disabled workers minimum wage. For real.

labor: Truck driving is a modern form of indentured slavery

Trucking companies force drivers to work against their will – up to 20 hours a day – by threatening to take their trucks and keep the money they paid toward buying them. Bosses create a culture of fear by firing drivers, suspending them without pay or reassigning them the lowest-paying routes.

* To keep drivers working, managers at a few companies have physically barred them from going home. More than once, Marvin Figueroa returned from a full day’s work to find the gate to the parking lot locked and a manager ordering drivers back to work. “That was how they forced me to continue working,” he testified in a 2015 labor case. Truckers at two other companies have made similar claims.

* Employers charge not just for truck leases but for a host of other expenses, including hundreds of dollars a month for insurance and diesel fuel. Some charge truckers a parking fee to use the company lot. One company, Fargo Trucking, charged $2 per week for the office toilet paper and other supplies.

* Drivers at many companies say they had no choice but to break federal safety laws that limit truckers to 11 hours on the road each day. Drivers at Pacific 9 Transportation testified that their managers dispatched truckers up to 20 hours a day, then wouldn’t pay them until drivers falsified inspection reports that track hours. Hundreds of California port truckers have gotten into accidents, leading to more than 20 fatalities from 2013 to 2015, according to the USA TODAY Network’s analysis of federal crash and port trade data.

* Many drivers thought they were paying into their truck like a mortgage. Instead, when they lost their job, they discovered they also lost their truck, along with everything they’d paid toward it. Eddy Gonzalez took seven days off to care for his dying mother and then bury her. When he came back, his company fired him and kept the truck. For two years, Ho Lee was charged more than $1,600 a month for a truck lease. When he got ill and missed a week of work, he lost the truck and everything he’d paid.

* Retailers could refuse to allow companies with labor violations to truck their goods. Instead they’ve let shipping and logistics contractors hire the lowest bidder, while lobbying on behalf of trucking companies in Sacramento and Washington D.C. Walmart, Target and dozens of other Fortune 500 companies have paid lobbyists up to $12.6 million to fight bills that would have held companies liable or given drivers a minimum wage and other protections that most U.S. workers already enjoy.